Baby Bump and Broken Dreams

By Christina Slaven 15 August 2023, 12:30PM

Approximately every two minutes, a teenage girl in the United States gives birth.  While this fact may be alarming and depressing to most, it is indeed the truth.  

When it comes to teen pregnancy, there is no stereotype.  All teens have their own opinions about everything that they do and don’t do.  As a teenager, I want to convey a series of questions that can justify a few observations and ideas based on my everyday surroundings, culture, information I have read in newspapers, internet, books, extensive research material, media in general etc., and stories from other people about teenage pregnancy.  

From these various forms of gathering information, this became helpful in answering some of the more complex questions brought up by my peers recently during a debate. Questions like what are the causes of teenage pregnancy? When does teenage pregnancy start? Why is teenage pregnancy increasing?  How to avoid it? What is the effect of teenage pregnancy for a young person and on our society? Where or to whom should the solution to avoid teenagers getting pregnant start with?

What are the causes of teenage pregnancy?

A) One of the root causes in our society nowadays is erroneously being exposed to a vast ocean of pornography, hybridized with the consequences of raging hormones resulting in many devastatingly sad stories of teen pregnancy.  This is one of the leading factors and reasons that are affecting not only young minds but through the way teenagers live in this generation.  You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to access or acquire porn movies on the Internet, just click a button.  The impact on media showing unhealthy sexual scenes that propagate teenage s*x and pregnancy are abundantly damaging on television, magazines, and social network sites.

B) Peer Pressure is another factor to succumb to s*x in exchange for acceptance by their so-called “Circle of Friends.”  In the States where I went to high school as a freshman, you are literally mocked by your peers if you are single.  That is why most teenagers are compelled by that notion to have a partner to welcome the status of belonging to a certain group of teens. 

C) Other factors of getting pregnant stem from home.  Women exposed to domestic violence, family strife, and abuse in childhood derived from broken homes are more likely to become pregnant as teenagers, and the risk of becoming pregnant increases with the number of adverse childhood experiences.  Family dysfunction has enduring and unfavorable health consequences especially for females during the adolescent years.  Boys raised in homes with a battered mother, or who experienced physical violence directly are significantly more likely to impregnate a girl.

When does teenage pregnancy start?  Females under the age of 20 are considered teens.  A pregnancy can take place before a girl experiences a menstrual period which signals the possibility of fertility, normally taking place around the ages of 12 or 13.

What are the effects of teenage pregnancy?  Due to teenager’s young and under-developed bodies, they face more medical concerns than that of a woman in their 20s.  There are more challenges if your socioeconomic status is low.  Most teens do not possess the intellectual or emotional maturity that is needed to provide for another life.  Teenage pregnancies are associated with many social issues that include lower educational levels, higher chance of poverty and other poorer outcomes in children of teenage mothers.  In our religious community and culture, teenage pregnancy out of wedlock is a shame and carries a social stigma.   Being a young mother can severely affect one’s education. Teen mothers are more likely to drop out of high school.  Employment for a high school dropout reduces her chances of employment, relying mostly on their families for financial assistance, especially her mother, who most likely is also working.  Early motherhood can also affect the psychosocial development of the infant like premature birth leading to low birth weight, development of mental disabilities to behavioral issues predisposing them to many other lifelong conditions usually plagued by intellectual, language, social-emotional delays.

 What are some of the solutions?  Many health educators argued that comprehensive sex education would effectively reduce the number of teenage pregnancies’, although others will argue that such education encourages more and earlier sexual activity.  For me personally, sex education is important especially for parents/guardians who are unwilling to give advice on this topic.  As a teenager, being aware especially in this time of age where the Internet is flooded with unguarded information, we need to learn the many aspects of teenage pregnancies by raising awareness of the causes, preventions, and outcomes if one day we are put to the test. 

As a small Christian country, we should have a fear of God and always abide and walk on the right path of life, but we cannot do it alone.  With that being said, I am also a firm believer that the learning process should start within the family.  It is a parent’s duty to guide, speak openly and always teach their children the importance of being moral and self-preserving individuals.  Parents should be adamant to protect and monitor their children’s daily activity and friends.  They should not be content with just sending their children to school to figure it all out.  Parents' priority is to take a collective responsibility of talking to their teens about pregnancy and relationships so that they will be aware of whatever occurs in the future.  This old age saying about “staying away from boys” really hasn’t worked.  Dealing with pregnancy is not easy for teens and parents, instead of ignoring the white elephant in the room, address it immediately to prevent the what ifs by simply making a bad choice. 

Life after pregnancy can be more difficult without emotional assistance and coping skills.  As a community, we should continue to support and encourage our young sisters to go back to school so they can advance their education to find meaningful well-paying employment and create better lives for themselves and their children.  This will help provide them with the knowledge they need to avoid falling into the same situation again.  Lack of empowerment is our greatest enemy and has the effect of obliging our young sisters to be financially and emotionally reduced early, so let us encourage one another to help achieve financial independence by finishing school to get great jobs.    

By Christina Slaven 15 August 2023, 12:30PM
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