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Teen Pregnancy

Kearstin James Mrs. Verdun English IV B7 February 26, 2014

Kearstin James


Mrs. Verdun English IV B7 February 26, 2014

Teen Pregnancy

The main two causes of teen pregnancy are family issues and what type of environment the teen is in. I say that family is a main cause because teenage pregnancy has happened throughout Americas history. Only in recent years has it been an urgent crisis, as young mothers continue to give birth outside of marriage. More critical circumstances dealing with teen pregnancy are medical and health complications, less schooling and higher dropout rates, lower career aspirations, and a life controlled by poverty. While legislation for career and technical education has focused attention on special needs populations the attention has focused on single parents. This research paper is a brief history of teen pregnancy in America and how it affects our youth, factors influencing teenage pregnancy, and the consequences associated with adolescent pregnancy. One major cause that I believe is a factor of teen pregnancy is family structure. Family structure is considered a major factor contributing to adolescent pregnancy and motherhood. Teen pregnancy rates are much higher among teens in foster care than among the general population. By age 19, pregnancy rates for girls in foster care are 2.5 times greater than that of their peers who are not in the system (speaking of foster care). Nearly half of girls in foster care become pregnant at least once by their 19th birthday and around 75 percent report being pregnant by age 21, compared to only one-third of their peers. In addition, by age 21, nearly two-thirds of teens in foster care have been pregnant more than once. Young men in foster care also report having gotten someone pregnant at higher rates than young men not in the system: 50 percent of men aging out of foster care at age 21 say that they have gotten someone pregnant, compared to 19 percent of young men not in foster care.


Pregnancy among adolescents in foster care creates challenges and costs for the system, such as providing health care and housing for teen mothers and their children. Currently, states may provide Medicaidpublic health insurance jointly funded by states and the federal governmentto finance prenatal care, delivery costs, and other health care services for foster children up to age 21. By 2014, however, the Affordable Care Act will extend Medicaid coverage to all young people in foster care, up to age 26. Rosen (1997) found a growing number of young American females lived in relatively unstable family situations and many became sexually intimate for a short-term sense of comfort. Parental rejection, or a lack of warmth, affection, or love, also led adolescents to seek relationships outside the family to boost their self-esteem (McCullough & Scherman, 1991). However, strong family relationships and two parent families have been found to lower the incidence of adolescent pregnancy (Weisfeld & Woodward, 2004). Hymowitz (1997) claimed parental influence was the most significant variable in adolescent pregnancy prevention. She concluded the absence of a father was the primary factor in teen girls becoming pregnant. It was also reported that adolescents whose parents communicated strong disapproval of sexual activity exhibited fewer risk-taking behaviors and were likely to delay sex until a later age. The other main factor is the environment that the teen is usually in, such as who they are around and what is mostly seen and introduced to it at a young age. Adolescent pregnancy is a complex issue with many reasons for concern. Kids age 12 - 14 years old are more likely than other adolescents to have unplanned sexual intercourse. They are more likely to be talked into having into sex. Most children who get pregnant around these ages are introduced to it by sexual abuse or older partners. Up to twothirds of adolescent pregnancies occur in teens age 18 - 19 years old. Sexual abuse is a big factor in adolescent pregnancy. Sexual abuse may alter perceptions about sexual behavior, leading an abused adolescent, especially females, to initiate sex at an earlier age and have more partners (Saewyc, Magee, & Pettingell, 2004). McCullough & Scherman (1991) speculated some teen pregnancies possibly resulted from unresolved feelings and behaviors associated with earlier


sexual abuse. Although the majority of adolescent females claimed their first sexual experience was voluntary, Farber (2003) found about voluntary, Farber (2003) found about 40% of girls who first had intercourse at age 13 or 14 indicated involuntary or unwanted intercourse with an older partner. Herman-Giddens et al. (1998) reported that females who were sexually abused as children were three times more likely to become pregnant during their teen years and usually became pregnant at a younger age. Likewise, about two-thirds of adolescent mothers were previously sexually abused or raped by a father, stepfather, or other relative, and often suffered from low self-esteem and depression (Sarri & Phillips, 2004; Villarosa, 1997). Additional studies found over 65% of adolescent mothers had babies by men who were age 20 or older, implying that a higher number of adolescent pregnancies may result from sexual abuse than previously thought (Klein, 1997; Villarosa, 1997). One highly argued issue on teenage pregnancy is the rate in African American females because of the history that the race has. Data gathered from 1999 to 2006 by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention included 1,580 Black and White females aged 15 to 19 years. Results supported the effects of race and SES (socioeconomic status), with SES having the stronger effect. However, the effects of race and SES differ when controlling for the state of the economy. No difference between Blacks and Whites was found during better economic times. During 2003-2004, the period of greatest economic stress, race was determined to be the only predictor of teenage pregnancy. In particular, during 2005-2006, the reduction in pregnancy rates for Black minors (15-17) fell below those for White minors within their respective SES categories. Policy implications are discussed in light of these findings. Teen pregnancy specifically emerged as a term in the early 1960s but did not become popular until the 1970s (Furstenberg, 2007; Luker, 1996; Wong & Checkland, 1999). Scholars began studying teen mothers and noticed how their lives were affected by poverty, which resulted in targeting concerns toward preventing unwanted births (Campbell, 1968). The premise behind the institutionalization of teenage pregnancy as a social problem was the understood act of consequences. Teenage pregnancy is a social problem was believed to be the result of lower levels of education, welfare dependency, and low-paying jobs, as well as greater health troubles for these teens

and their babies. Along with establishing teenage pregnancy as inexcusable behavior and major public health problem was the concern over high rates of teenage pregnancy for Blacks. Luker (1996) and Furstenberg (2007) point out the unfair equivalence of teenage pregnancy with Black teen pregnancy. Geronimus (2003) even argues that publicizing teen pregnancy and the high rates of teen pregnancy among African Americans assists the dominant group of Whites in social control by arguing that teenage childbearing has disastrous consequences. Some would argue that we need minor the major and major the minor. But that, we should think and act upon preventing the crisis dealing with our youth. Instead we focus on how to support the youth and their decision of teen pregnancy. In July 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded competitive Pregnancy Assistance Fund grants, totaling $21.6 million, to 17 states and tribes to support pregnant and parenting teens and women continuing their education. The Pregnancy Assistance Fund offers pregnant and parenting teens and women a continuous network of support services to assist them in completing educational degrees, whether high school or postsecondary, and to obtain and retain access to health care, family housing and other essential supports. Funds may also be used to combat violence against pregnant women. Through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, states work with a broad range of stakeholders such as high schools, institutions of higher education and community organizations to provide these key services to pregnant teens and women who carry their pregnancies to term, and to parenting mothers. In 2010, 17 states were awarded $24 million in Pregnancy Assistance Funds. Why do we constantly support these teens in their choices if we know what their as well as our future will look like? We as a country cant let young children parent as adults due to maturity levels and wisdom. The mothers education is not the only victim of teen childbearing; children born to teen moms often do not perform as well as children of older mothers on early childhood development indicators and school readiness measures, such as communication, cognition and social skills. Research shows that children of teen mothers not only start school at a disadvantage, they also fare worse than those born to older parents later on. For example, children born to teens have lower educational performance, score lower on standardized tests, and are twice as likely to repeat a grade. Additionally,

only around two-thirds of children born to teen mothers earn a high school diploma, compared to 81 percent of children born to adults. Teen pregnancy and parenting are significant contributors to high school drop-out rates among teen girls. Thirty percent of teenage girls who drop out of high school cite pregnancy or parenthood as a primary reason. This rate is even higher for Hispanic and African American teens, 36 and 38 percent, respectively. Overall, only 40 percent of teen moms finish high school and less than two percent of those who have a baby before age 18 finish college by age 30. If youre a pregnant teen or teen mom, chances are youve already heard words like: Youre not gonna graduate. There go your dreams of college. Now youre gonna be stuck in a dead end job supporting your baby. Society has been brought to believe that if you have a child and a pre teen or teen, then your chances of even graduating high school are slim to none. Truth be told, you do not have to be another statistic. Teen moms can dare to dream just like any average teen, and in the same way you were dreaming before you got pregnant or became a mom. Being a mom now means you will have to make some adjustments, and its not going to be easy, but its definitely not impossible. In conclusion I wanted to make a point about the facts and causes of teen pregnancy. I wanted my readers to realize that just because you have a baby in high school doesnt mean that youll be nothing in life. I do not support teen pregnancy, but I do believe in never giving up. Teen pregnancy does not mean you give up on life, but that you keep going and dont become a statistic.

Works Cited


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