Causes and Reasons for Teenage Pregnancies
Teenage pregnancy is evident in all societies, although the level of childbearing associated with teenage pregnancy varies with regions, states and countries. Levels of adolescent pregnancies vary significantly by a factor of almost ten in the developed countries. In Europe, for example, in the last decade, the United Kingdom had the highest rate of teenage pregnancy; with more than 90, 000 teenage conceptions per year. More than half or these pregnancies are below the age of 16, and about 2200 cases under the age of 14. Throughout the same period, in another European country; the Netherlands; the rates were as low as 12 pregnancies per a 1000 adolescents in a year. It is well known that not all teenage pregnancies are carried to term as many unwanted teenage pregnancies get terminated, despite the associated critical consequences this act is believed to have on the victims. The issue of teenage pregnancies is considered a crisis due to the circumstances associated with it, such as health and medical complications, low career aspirations, high school dropout rates, and a life encircled with poverty(Rasheed, Abdelmonem& Amin, 2010).
In the last two decades, various studies on causes and reasons for teenage pregnancies have been completed, with various outcomes. Studies have documented several risk factors that contribute to teenage pregnancy. Unsafe sexual activity, substance misuse, having many sexual partners, start of sexual activity at an early age, poor performance at school, single parent families and low family income are some of the most prevalent reasons behind teen pregnancies. Today, in America, statistics indicate that three in every ten girls get pregnant at least once in their teenage years; this makes it almost 750,000 teenage pregnancies each year. Parenthood is one of the important reasons for teenage pregnancies and school dropout in America today, with more than half of the teen pregnancy victims dropping out of high school. The socioeconomic status and the society which a teenage girl comes from also contribute to cases of teenage pregnancy. In 2009, teenage pregnancy rate among Hispanic and African American girls between the ages of 15 to 19 was more than double the rate of white teenage girls in the same age bracket(Miller, Benson & Galbraith, 2001).
Not all of the teenage pregnancies are accidental; some are intentional. Most of the pregnancies at 18 or 19 years were planned for, and those involved are in apparent stable relationships that are bound to end up in a marriage and the start of a family. On the other hand, many of pregnancies among the young teenagers (16 years and below), result from causes such as being drunk, not being aware they can get pregnant, and getting “caught up” by the feelings. Most of these reasons indicate that these teenagers are not taking control of their lives and are clearly not able to make the right decisions for their lives.For example, a girl may say she was not comfortable to go and obtain contraception, or was too embarrassed to ask their partner to use protection(Sarantaki&Koutelekos, 2009).
Almost half of the adolescents in America today have never considered the effects of getting pregnant and how this would interfere with their lives. At the same time, only two out of ten teenage fathers marry the mother of their child. Only less than two percent of the teenage mothers are able to complete school and graduate from college by the age of 30 years (Solomon, 2013). As mentioned, about 30 percent of American girls will get pregnant during their teenage years; this is a large number considering the statistics related to teenage pregnancy as explained in this paper. It is, therefore, essential to look into this problem and establish a way forward in trying to mitigate the effects of teenage pregnancies in the entire society.
Results and Discussion
Many of the adolescent females become pregnant and choose to become teen mothers because they lack other life goals within their reach. Such girls are overwhelmed by factors such as repeated poor performance despite the efforts they put in school. It ruins their self-esteem as they find themselves having no realistic expectations when it comes to education, career and occupation. These girls see pregnancy as a shortcut to adulthood; others are having feelings of hopeless regarding their future as they are unable to achieve in school (Domenico& Jones, 2007).
Most of the girls who become pregnant as teenagers come from families that live in poverty. The lack of positive role models and underprivileged living conditions may contribute a great deal to teenage pregnancy. Some teenage girls may choose to be pregnant, become mothers – and get married to a person of high social-economic status in some ethnic groups; as a way out of poverty(Rasheed, Abdelmonem& Amin, 2010). Many researchers have made an attempt to explain the reasons why teenage women who live in poverty are likely to get pregnant and have children in their teenage years. They have concluded that being raised in a family with few economic prospects may lead teenage girls to choose to have a child in their teenage years (Miller, Benson & Galbraith, 2001). Some cite the operationalization of the ideas of hopelessness and marginalization as being responsible for the cycle of poverty among people from such poor families. Children from such poor families have no hope of completing school or getting a job, so they get pregnant as teenagers and continue the poverty cycle (Sarantaki&Koutelekos, 2009).
Family structure is a major contributing factor in teenage pregnancy and motherhood. In America, a significant number of teenage mothers come from unstable family situations. These teens resort to sexual intimacy for a short term sense of comfort but end up pregnant. Lack of warmth and affection from family members and parental rejection causes adolescents to seek affection, warmth and love in outside relationships to enhance their self-esteem. Parental inspiration is one of the most significant variables in teenage pregnancy prevention, for instance, girls without a father have a higher chance of getting pregnant before 20 years compared to those with a father who communicates a message against sexual activity (Miller, Benson & Galbraith, 2001).
In recent years, the use of contraceptives and other forms of safe sex among teenagers has been on the increase (Solomon, 2013). However, the use of contraceptives among these teenagers remains inconsistent. Reasons for the inconsistency include lack of proper knowledge on the use of contraceptives, lack of access to reliable birth control methods, or feeling uncomfortable using birth control. Inconsistent use of birth control means that sexually active teenagers are still at risk of getting pregnant (Domenico& Jones, 2007).
Although in recent years the rates of teenage pregnancy and birth have been on the decline, the issue is still a pressing matter for most countries; as it gets associated with high levels of poverty, poor health, and unemployment. The stakeholders should put in more resources and dedication into dealing with the problem from the cause. As was established in this paper and other previous papers, poverty, family structure and lack of access to proper information about and contraceptives are the main factors contributing to this problem. Facing these issues systematically with the proper approach will see the rates of teenage pregnancy drop significantly in the next few years.