S: Social Problems: Teen Pregnancy by Charmaine Gills
BC: Woman Holding Pregnancy Test. Date Unknown. Photographer Unknown. (c) Radius Images/Corbis.
FC: Teen Pregnancy | Brazil - Social Issues Teen Pregnancy; July 30, 2006; Carlos Cazalis; © Carlos Cazalis/Corbis
1: T | Teen pregnancy is a social problem that has taken center stage in recent years. Though teen pregnancy can be considered a global social issue; "The U.S. teen birthrate is the highest in the developed world," (Guerrero 2011). Staggering rates of underage sex have been exposed. The age of consent remains between the ages of 16-18 years old respectively across the states, though the participants of underage sex tend to be younger and younger each decade. Conflict/Feminist Perspective would be most relevant to teenage pregnancy due to the struggle the teen moms endure and most of the broken family structures they hail from. Sociologists debate about the reasoning behind unprotected underage sex. Possibilities vary from poor or little education, alcohol and drug use, and the possibility of pre-planning, but perhaps the best questions are, why is teenage pregnancy such a problem? Why are so many teens getting pregnant? What can statistics predict for our future regarding teenage pregnancy? Though the advancement of technology has continued improve, the advancement of information of in sex education has not. Many high schools across the nations lack sex education. In countries like the Netherlands, Australia, and France, sex education is required in schools, whereas it is not in the United States. In the summer of 2009, MTV took matters into their own hands and launched a new reality television series called 16 and Pregnant. The show featured the real lives of young teens preparing for motherhood. This show was the first formal exposure of teenage pregnancy in the United States. Given it's plot and satirical drama, the show was an instant hit. Though it was meant to be a televised platform for awareness, many overlooked it's cause for change. "The U.S. teen birthrate has been attributed to a range of factors, from inadequate sexuality education to declining morals," (Guerrero 2011). As the old adage goes, 'if they knew better they would do better.' If there is no information being provided to young teens and their parents aren't talking to them, they may as well be sent into the woods blindfolded, which will soon lead to teens picking their poison.
2: Teenage mother and baby. Date Unknown. Ian Hooton. (c) Ian Hooton/Science Photo Library Corbis.
3: Brazil - Social Issues - Teen Pregnancy. July 27, 2006. Carlos Cazalis. © Carlos Cazalis/Corbis.
4: Alcohol and drug use are two vices also considered to be social problems in certain arenas, though they two can play a role in teenage pregnancy. In 2005, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that roughly 16% of youths from the ages of twelve to seventeen used alcohol. Horror stories have always been on the rise regarding teens partying and binge drinking and have unprotected sex as a result. In this margin, many teens have became pregnant. Some teens have not even recalled having sex at the party due to their extent of intoxication or a situation of potential date-rape. Though this is reckless behavior that stands alone, this behavior most likely occurs due to peer pressure and the desire to experiment with illegal substance related to depression, frustration, and pre-mature relationships. In today's society, teen pregnancy has become somewhat of a norm. Sadly, it can almost be expected to come across a teen age parent. The likelihood of waiting for marriage has significantly decreased. As I stated previously, a different set or morals and standards has been established by the youth. Given the decrease in teen abstinence and celibacy amongst the youth, cohabitation is on the the rise. With cohabitation often comes planned parenthood nowadays. There's an influx of teens and young women getting pregnant intentionally. In some cases, the young couples are wanting children as if it's the next phase in their relationships of normalcy. Other cases, the young couples think that it's impressive to be pregnant at such a young age, some also find it attractive. Being peer pressured into getting pregnant is the latest craze and without doubt the most destructive. Why is teen parenthood considered a destructive choice? Why is it considered a social problem? Teenage pregnancies often times result in the creation of a broken home, leading to poverty. Most teens do not have full-time jobs nor do most of the teen moms have supportive fathers for their children. Quite the majority of teen moms are on welfare and state aid trying to 'survive' on the day to day.
5: Teenage mothers. Date Unknown. Ian Hooton. (c) Ian Hooton/Science Photo Library Corbis.
6: Pregnant Teen in Shadows. Date unknown. Lawrence Manning. (c) Lawrence Manning/Corbis. Royalty-Free RF.
7: Not only can teen pregnancy and parenthood lead to poverty and a fatherless or abandoned child, but it can also lead to health concerns. Pregnant teens and their babies often time have unique health risks. Many teens are so unaware of the health needs of an unborn child as well as how to take care of themselves that they do not have prenatal care at all during the pregnancy. Lacking insurance and knowledge can put a lot more stress health-wise on the baby as well as the mom. Prenatal care screens early for complications in the pregnancy and monitors the overall growth of the baby. Prenatal vitamins are ideal throughout the pregnancy, to which they contain folic acid, which helps to prevent neural tube defects. As I stated earlier, more and more teens are getting pregnant due to various reasons. Some teens have such little knowledge about sex and pregnancy and are simply unaware of the caution that should be taken. Other teens may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol on the night of conception. The other percentage do it for the status and to feel special, while another margin feel 'it's time.' These reasons alone are examples of the Conflict/Feminist Perspective at work. The conflict is that teenage pregnancy is in no one's best interest specifically and continuously keeps teen parents down financially, emotionally, physically, and socially. Regardless of the reasoning behind teen pregnancy, it is indeed a social issue that must be faced head on. It's an issue that has to be faced in a proactive manner rather than a reactive manner. We have to do something before it happens someone else who is yet another teen who is not ready to be a parent. Education has to be provided, risks have to be blatantly outlined, and communication has to occur. These teens need help, they need information and an open ear. This problem can be solved but it has to start with the youth of today, so we will have a better tomorrow.