Teen Pregnancy Impacts Society
The percentage of children born out of wedlock grows annually. This global phenomenon is especially prevalent in economically developed countries. Fueled by the popular cultural ethic that mocks the importance of marriage and advocates premature sexual experiences, one segment of society is disproportionately burdened by the consequences. This segment is the teenage adolescent age group.
Teenage pregnancy has been an issue on the radar of many government social programs for decades. Studies have shown that the risks associated with pregnancy for both mother and child are significantly higher than of the risks of older women and their children. Teenage mothers are also more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). They are statistically less likely to use birth control and/or condoms. While many programs have been implemented in countries to attempt to combat teenage pregnancies, they often don’t know where to direct their efforts. In order to continue decreasing teen pregnancies, organizations must understand who the at-risk groups are and begin to target them specifically.
Despite a one-third decline since the 90s, the United States still has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world. While the U.S. rate is one-and-a-half times higher than that of the next highest country, the United Kingdom, the problems associated with teen pregnancies are not limited to just a few select countries. With the degeneration of the family, sexual activity has increased. This is especially true for teen agers who are beginning to become sexually active at a much younger age. In a world that is encouraging more teenage sexual activity including homosexuality and pornography use, it’s no real surprise that teenage pregnancies are increasing. But, what are the links between encouraging these practices and teenage pregnancy?
Abuse and Teen Pregnancy
In the article “Teenage Pregnancy and Associated Risk Behaviors Among Sexually Abused Adolescents,” Elizabeth Saewyc, Lara Leanne Magee, and Sandra Pettingell explore the statistical significance of different types of sexual abuse and a teenager’s likelihood of pregnancy involvement. The authors conducted a secondary analysis of data from two Minnesota Student Surveys from 1992 and 1998. These anonymous surveys asked ninth and twelfth graders about their sexual history and sought to identify risk factors for teenage pregnancy, especially among youth with a history of sexual abuse. Unlike much of the research in this area, the authors chose to have the students differentiate between the type of sexual abuse as none, incest only, non-familial only, or both. The research showed that adolescent males and females who had been sexually abused were significantly more likely to be involved in a pregnancy situation than those who had not suffered abuse. Additionally, “the prevalence of pregnancy involvement among abused teenagers was substantially greater in males than in females.” The study concluded that pregnancy prevention should be targeted at adolescents with known histories of sexual abuse, especially making more services available to young men who are abused.
In the article, “Exploring Intersections between Teenage Pregnancy and Gender Violence: Lessons from Zimbabwe,” authors Caroline Hof and Annemiek Richters explore the relationship between teenage pregnancy and gender violence. While literature in this topic is somewhat limited, there is a growing body of research which demonstrates that a “considerable number of unplanned pregnancies may be the result of forced sexual intercourse.” The study found that gender violence was pervasive in the lives of most of the teenage girls in their study and while the inadequacy of family planning services also seemed to play a role in these pregnancies, “the root causes of these pregnancies were found to be power inequalities based on age and gender. They promoted and facilitated different forms of gender violence, which were in various ways causally connected to unwanted teenage pregnancy.” The study concluded that in order to fight teen pregnancies the country must fight to break the gender biases inherent in the culture. In countries where women are not respected or given equal rights or where their states rights are not respected, there is more violence against women including child marriages, sexual assault and abuse, as well as prostitution. All of these practices increase the likelihood of teenage pregnancy amongst their participants.
Impacts on the Family
In addition to the devastating impact of sexual abuse on teen pregnancy, the lasting damages on the teenage mother and her baby are well documented. Children who are born to teen mothers are more likely to have developmental disabilities and behavioral issues. Children of teen mothers are also less likely to succeed academically and more likely to fail or drop out of secondary school, be held back, or have lower standardized test scores.Daughters are more likely to become teen mothers themselves and sons are three times more likely to serve prison time.Similarly, siblings of teen mothers are more likely to engage in sexual activity at a younger age and other at-risk behaviors. In short, teen pregnancies overwhelmingly lead to a breakdown in the family not only for the teen mothers but also for the generations that come after them.
UFI Supporting Families
Understanding the tragedy of teenage pregnancy only further reinforces UFI’s determination to work for and protect the family. Through continuing to combat pornography, high divorce rates, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, prostitution, human trafficking, and the number of other contributors toward teen pregnancy, UFI is also fighting to preserve and defend the family. The solution to the teenage pregnancy issue lies in a resurgence of support for the institution of marriage. The personal suffering of effected individuals and the societal cost to governments worldwide can be ameliorated by fidelity to this important institution.
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