According to Women’s Health Channel, approximately 33 percent of teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years old become pregnant each year in the United States. Of those pregnancies, 80 percent are unplanned. Despite the decline in teen pregnancy from 1991 to 2005, the rate actually increased by 3 percent between 2006 and 2007. Currently, Hispanic girls make up the highest percentage of teenage mothers with the most significant decline occurring in African-American girls.
Teenage mothers are less likely to receive adequate prenatal care, which can have disastrous results for their babies. According to the American Medical Association, babies born to mothers who do not receive regular prenatal care are four times more likely to die before their first birthday. Because teenage mothers are also more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and ignore the benefits of proper nutrition, their babies are often underweight. As a result, these babies suffer greater instances of organ failure, respiratory distress and internal bleeding.
Girls who give birth while in their teens suffer greater negative consequences than those older, more mature mothers who give birth for the first time. Teen mothers are more likely to quit high school and rely on public assistance programs and welfare dollars to support themselves and their babies. They are also more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, the burden of caring for these children becomes the primary responsibility of teen mothers, as teen fathers rarely commit to the mother and child. Furthermore, they contribute little monetary support to help care for their babies.
Children of Teens
Not only does teenage pregnancy negatively impact the lives of both the teen mother and the father, their children do not go unscathed. Children born to teenage mothers are more likely to score poorly on standardized tests and drop out of school. Furthermore, these children are more likely to be abused by their teenage parents. Girls of teenage mothers are at a greater risk of contributing to the teenage pregnancy statistic, and boys of teenage mothers are more likely to end up in jail.
Although more than half of public school districts within the United States teach sex education, the majority of them, 86 percent, teach abstinence only versus courses that include methods of protection. In addition to abstinence, to effectively reduce the occurrence of teenage pregnancy, both females and males must be taught the importance of protecting themselves and their partners. This involves education them about what contraceptives are available and how to correctly use them, as well as the dangers associated with unprotected sex.
Parents of teens can help prevent unintended pregnancies by openly talking to their kids about sex. Discussing family values and emphasizing the importance of education and extracurricular activities, as well as talking about the realities of having a baby, can help a teen make smart choices. Parents should also be tuned in to who their kids are dating and be ready to step in when those relationships become too intimate and involved.