TEENAGE PREGNANCY

There are countless reasons why teenage girls between the ages of 13 to 19 become pregnant. Some teenagers feel prepared and ready to have a child, but more often than not, teenage pregnancy is unplanned and unexpected. Some of the reasons below explain the how and whys of teenage pregnancy, including but not limited to:

Peer Pressure

Many teenagers report that they became sexually active in an attempt to fit in with their peers. Although teenagers may want to seem cool and make friends, sometimes they are not fully educated on the consequences that will follow their actions. Approximately 29% of pregnant teenagers say that they felt pressured to have sex, and more than 33% admitted that they did not feel ready or prepared for a sexual relationship, but they feared rejection or ridicule. [4] Being a teenager is increasingly stressful and a high percentage of youth today struggle with confidence and self-esteem issues, which can lead to making questionable decisions solely to fit in. Teenagers deserve reassurance that their opinions matter, and that maintaining their individuality, opinions and confidence is crucial for future development.

Absent Parents

Children rely greatly on their parents or guardians to teach them the values and morals that will carry them throughout their lifetime. Parental guide and support teach children the wrongs and rights of daily life, and in turn teach them the challenges of decision making. When parents are absent or are extremely busy, teenagers are more likely to engage in risky behaviour, without being fully educated. This includes drugs, alcohol, and sexual behaviour. When teenagers are lacking parental guidance, they are more likely to rebel and make decisions to unsafely engage in sexual activity which leads to teenage pregnancy. [4] In order for teenagers with absent parents to not fall into the absent parent cycle, they need the education and support to succeed. Teenage parents have the full potential to be loving, determined, and extraordinary parents if they are given the continuous support, guidance and education that they deserve.

Media

Television, movies and internet have a very large impact on the decisions and actions of teenagers. When media displays reckless sexual acts and sexual exploitation it can lead to teenagers engaging in unsafe sexual activity without being fully educated. Movies and television shows often glamorize pregnancy, and make it seem as though sex is a necessary way to gain social acceptance. [4] For example, TV shows such as “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”, can be viewed as very controversial. Some would argue that these shows are a negative influence on the decision making of young teenagers who are not yet fully emotionally mature or aware of the ongoing consequences of their actions. Others may disagree and view these shows as a positive influence on the education and real life trials and tribulations of teenage mothers. These shows also do well in giving information to teenagers on where they can go, and who they can talk to if they are interested in gaining more information, or if they have any questions regarding their sexuality. If youth are properly taught sex education, rather than only having the false representation of what they see and hear from peers and media, then they may be able to make more educated decisions about their sexual activity.

Inexperience

Teenagers who are uneducated about sex are more likely to engage in unprotected sex, and have an unintended, unplanned, or unwanted pregnancy. Lack of experience, resources or information can lead people to make decisions that are risky and unsafe, because they may not be fully aware of the possible outcomes (such as pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections). Furthermore, many people, not only teenagers, do not fully recognize that engaging in sexual activity can affect all aspects of human nature, such as biological, emotional, and physical. [4]

Abuse/Rape

Unfortunately, not all teenage pregnancies are consensual. It is estimated that somewhere between 43-62% of teens were impregnated by an adult male as old as 27 and approximately 5% of all teenage births are the result of rape. [4] These are very sad statistics that in no way reflect the teenage girls that are impacted by abusive relationships and rape.Teenagers that become pregnant through abusive relationships and rape need continual support, in order to be able to give their child the best life possible and to have peace of mind themselves. Being raped has long-lasting consequences and can cause post traumatic stress, as well as other mental illnesses. As devastating and repulsive as rape is, it is a teenage pregnancy statistic that needs to be recognized.

Alcohol A great deal of teenagers are in an experimental stage of their lives. Some teenagers experiment with alcohol and drugs, which can lead to a lack of impulse control and loss of the ability to make coherent decisions. Underage drinking leads to a soaring 75% of teenage pregnancies, and 91% of pregnant teenagers that drank did not plan to engage in sexual activity when they conceived. [4] Youth need education on drugs and alcohol in order to make the best decisions for themselves and to have full awareness of the effects alcohol and drugs can have if not controlled safely.