Emma H. Utah

Teen Pregnancy

The future of America lies in the hands of our youth. Should they really be changing diapers?

It is widely agreed that teen pregnancy is an issue. Really, no one thinks it’s a good thing. It’s bad for the parents, families of the parents, the babies, and our country. Despite having great advances in preventative measures, rates remain higher than ideal. In 2014, a total of 249,078 babies were born to teens, for a birth rate of 24.2 per 1,000. Teen pregnancy is a serious problem that needs to be solved and stopped. Most American schools only teach abstinence, and this can take partial blame for pregnancies. Another major aspect is how teenagers are raised. Circumstances (such as religion) can contribute to the decisions a teenager makes. The effects of teen pregnancy are extremely influential. The lives of teens are never the same after having a child. The lives of the children are also rarely ideal. Studies have shown that teen pregnancy has effects on the society of our entire country, it influences many other problems that are important. Such as abortion, levels of education, and low income households. I feel that the best way to prevent teen pregnancy is to teach contraception in schools.

The two largest factors in teen pregnancy are home life and education. Studies have shown that income in the home is a major contributor. Another big contributor is the family’s history with pregnancy. A teenager is more likely to be a teen parent if their parents or siblings were. Parent’s stances on sexual activity are important. Some parents are unavailable to talk to, making it so that teenagers have no knowledge or access to contraception. Other parents buy their kids birth control themselves, completely ignoring the other risks (like emotional or moral) that come with being a sexually active teen. I feel that my parents’ view is the best. They discourage sex before marriage; they insist that abstinence is best. But, if we are going to have sex anyway, we sure as heck better have protection.

But perhaps the largest influence is religion. A study shows that the states with more conservative beliefs have higher pregnancy rates. Such as Mississippi. Mississippi is considered the most religious state, as well as the state with most teen births. Contraception is not taught in hopes of discouraging teen sex. Really, it’s just giving more babies a disadvantage. Home life is important to the future of teens. Adolescents whose parents talk with them about standards of sexual behavior are more likely to be abstinent, avoiding chances of pregnancy altogether.

Many school boards currently insist on teaching only abstinence. While I can see where this is a valid idea, it’s not going to stop teen pregnancy. It has the same faults with avoidance as home life and religion do. Teenagers need to know about contraception methods. In fact, states with abstinence only sex-ed classes have higher rates of teen pregnancy. For the most part, teenagers aren’t smart enough to not have sex just out of fear. Not teaching contraception does very little for abstinence rates, it just increases the number of teen pregnancies.

The effects of any form of pregnancy is hard on a teenager. Abortion can leave mothers with psychological trauma and depression at terminating their babies, and about half of teen pregnancies do end in abortion. Adoption is a healthy option for the baby but can be incredibly difficult for the mom. The option of keeping and raising the baby themselves also holds major consequences for the parents such as dropping out of high school. In fact, pregnancy is a major contributor to high school dropout rates. Only about 50 percent of teen moms gain a high school diploma, compared to the 90% success rate of women who don’t give birth. Less than two percent of teen moms will graduate college. This almost always results in a low income. When the earnings of mothers of 15 years were compared, the teen moms earned significantly less. They were also more commonly on welfare. Nothing about this life sounds good, especially once you know that only 20% of teen fathers stay with the women they impregnated. It’s not fair to these girls. Besides, who’s ready to have a child when they’re still a kid themselves?

Studies have also displayed consequences in the children of teen pregnancies. They are often raised in low income homes because their parents were unable to finish their schooling. “Among teens, pregnancy is both a cause and a result of poverty and low academic achievement. Teen pregnancy is part of the “cycle of poverty” in which young mothers often stay poor, and their children are at an increased risk for teen pregnancy, poverty, and lower academic outcomes.” (advocatesforyouth.org). And because income is such a major contributor when it comes to education, it isn’t surprising that these children often struggle. They are more likely to dropout of high school. Additionally, only around two-thirds of children born to teen mothers earn a high school diploma, compared to 81 percent of children born to adults. They also have a greater chance of being a teen parent themselves. The children are more likely to suffer health and cognitive disadvantages, and come in contact with the child welfare and correctional systems. They are typically raised by a single mom. What part of this sounds like a good life? Children born to teenagers are born with a significant disadvantage.

Teen pregnancy is a serious problem that can be easily avoided in a few ways. It is the responsibility of adults and educators to help the youth avoid this life altering event. The American school system teaches mainly abstinence. I understand the reasoning behind this, and abstinence is certainly an important subject. Personally, I believe that abstinence until marriage is the correct choice. It’s the only guarantee to avoid pregnancy and STD’s. Not to mention the emotional trauma in can avoid. Additionally, sexually active teenagers are proven to be more likely to be involved in substance abuse. Abstinence allows teenagers to be involved in real relationships, instead of just using each other for sex. Despite this, contraception needs to be taught also. This is the only way to avoid pregnancy in sexually active teenagers. About 43% of teenagers are having sex. Only 80% of them are using a method of birth control. Faye Wattleton (President of the Planned Parenthood Federation) states, “Just saying no prevents teen pregnancy the way ‘have a nice day’ cures chronic depression.” Lots of teenagers will not pick abstinence. In this case, educators and parents both need to ensure that they have a proper knowledge of and access to contraception. Honest conversation and advice helps teens lower risks and increase use of contraception.

Teen pregnancy in and of itself may not seem like a big deal, but it influences many important aspects of our country. If this problem can be taken care of, it can help take care of other issues too. Currently an important topic is abortion. About half of teen pregnancies end in abortion, and 18% of all abortions are from teenagers. It also involves taxing. Approximately 9.4 billion dollars go towards teen pregnancies each year, or about 500,000 dollars for welfare and health care to each pregnancy. Teen parents make up a great percentage of the high school dropouts. They’re also a large percentage of the unemployed, or the low income homes. Most of all, teen pregnancy affects the babies involved. Lowering teen pregnancy rates is one of the best way to reduce child poverty. There are celebrity advertisements that say, “You are supposed to be changing the world, not changing diapers.” Help America’s youth to change our country, one healthy choice at a time.

Spanish Fork High School

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