Background of the Issue
Prior to gaining a deeper understanding of how the United States of America copes with the issue of adolescent pregnancy, it should be crucial to take a look at 42 million teenagers. They are developing well and represent an important population cohort that generates lots of reasons for an optimistic outlook on the future. According to Baiden et al. (2019), one of the biggest reasons why one could pay closer attention to adolescents is their incredible exposure to mental and behavioral health problems. With obesity, violence, substance abuse, and other challenges on the line, adolescents are mostly unable to withstand the pressure. This is why they engage in unsafe sex practices at a young age in an attempt to overcome the issues that affect them on a daily basis (Bewa, 2021). Unfortunately, promiscuity tends to lead to pregnancy in more than 50% of sexually active adolescents due to the lack of sexual education.
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Based on the information obtained from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System surveys, it may be stated that adolescent pregnancy goes beyond the mere fact of conceiving a child. Akella (2018) and Moore et al. (2017) note that sexually risky behaviors are typical of an enormous percentage of younger individuals who do not resist the urge to explore their sexuality in any way. As soon as the pregnancy becomes unintended, it affects more than just partners who conceived the child. This is the basic rationale for investigating the subject of adolescent pregnancy and making sure that a proper solution could be found to prevent such cases from happening in the future. Approximately 12% of all adolescent females get to their prenatal state before they reach age 21, which is a mostly negative trend for the government and healthcare organizations (Fisher et al., 2020). All of these additional issues can be accompanied by human immunodeficiency virus infection and numerous other sexually transmitted diseases.
The central factor that contributes to the problem is the rapid development pace that modern children experience. With all the audiovisual and textual content that they can find online, it may be much harder to prevent adolescent pregnancy than in the 20th century (Chase, 2019). The lack of practical experience and in-progress physical development makes adolescents vulnerable. Therefore, constant exposure to different health risks during one’s childhood could significantly affect their view of sexual relationships in the future. This determined outlook on the problem of adolescent pregnancy also proves that many parents simply do not touch upon the subject of sex education with their children (Hadley et al., 2017). Similar to risks for cancer or mental health issues, teenage pregnancy should be a hot topic across numerous government bodies intended to reduce the burden placed on the shoulders of the younger population. On a long-term scale, this rapid development of children is not going to slow down.
Speaking of the individuals and groups of people who are the most affected by the issue of adolescent pregnancy, parents and their young children represent the two vulnerable clusters. Their involvement in the issue goes beyond the sexual relationship between two people, as there are economic and social consequences of adolescent pregnancy (Moore et al., 2017). The income level and lifestyles of the future grandparents will inimitably alter under the influence of their children’s pregnancy. Despite the presence of high-quality healthcare, it could be hard to monitor adolescents’ physical and mental wellbeing at all times. One particular risk that adolescent pregnancy sparks is the growth of the poverty rates in the area where unprotected sex is the most prevalent (Maravilla et al., 2017). Over the course of the past decade, the percentage of adolescents living below the national poverty level increased from 12% to 18% (Paton et al., 2020). This is why the issue cannot be taken lightly or considered something that does not affect communities on a larger scale.
In order to respond to the question of how adolescents and their parents are influenced by pregnancy, researchers and government bodies have to pay closer attention to the justice system, foster care, and an upsurge in the number of homeless teenagers. According to Baiden et al. (2019), adolescents representing nonconventional sexual orientations could face even more risks when becoming pregnant or engaging in unprotected sex. Therefore, the ineffective nature of continuous health insurance coverage makes it safe to say that quite a few preventive approaches to adolescent pregnancy could be disengaged prior to the deployment process. This would happen because of how parents and their teenage children perceive prevention programs (Bewa, 2021). Disruptions in school attendance and the maintenance of one’s wellbeing could cause issues for adolescents as well. Without all the necessary screenings and guidance, teenagers and their parents will be caught in the loop of irrational health behaviors.
In the case of inaction, adolescents will have to go through most challenges of pregnancy on their own, including mental and physical breakdowns instigated by major transformations caused by gravidity. From preeclampsia to premature birth, there are numerous health problems that could affect both the mother and the fetus (Summers et al., 2017). If the government does not take a stronger stance on the problem, there will be more cases of adolescent pregnancy resulting in negative outcomes, either for the parents or the future child. Also, fatal injuries and anemia could transpire during the process of childbearing and giving birth because of the overall weakness of younger organisms that have not developed fully yet (Akella, 2018). Complications that arise during adolescent pregnancy represent the leading cause of demise among girls under 19 (Vafai et al., 2020). Therefore, the issue of teenage pregnancy should be covered across academic articles and governmental reports in order to stop inaction.
The majority of policies revolving around adolescent pregnancy have been led by the government in an attempt to develop as many shared agendas as possible and attract numerous actors from various organizations. The two most important bodies that cope with the issue of teenage pregnancy are the Department of Public Health and the state Department of Education (Smith et al., 2018). Their essential task is to ensure that academic performance in adolescents remains above the inadmissible mark. The majority of policies are also synchronized in terms of how they revolve around preventing higher rates of school dropouts. The existence of such multifaceted strategies paves the way for further expansions that serve as the basis for a rather flexible philosophy of teenage pregnancy and sexual education (Summers et al., 2017). Even though these initiatives are not extremely consistent, they bring enough opportunities to the table to help pregnant adolescent girls finish school.
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Accordingly, the problem is not addressed from an angle where adolescents could obtain proper sexual education and take responsibility for their actions. The effectiveness of education-based solutions proposed by the Department of Public Health and the state Department of Education should be validated via the number of pregnancies that occurred one year after the end of the programs (Chase, 2019). Repeat birth will make the lives of adolescent females even more complex. Yet, the government should be entitled to finding the best ways to reimburse young mothers without rewarding teenage pregnancy at the same time. There should be enough space for creativity, as conventional approaches to preventing teenage pregnancy do not seem to work anymore.
The Abstinence and Safer Sex Education and Training (ASSET) will be a 20-hour adolescent pregnancy prevention intervention intended to help teenage girls and boys recognize the need to maintain healthy attitudes toward sex and its possible consequences. The program will be deployed in an interactive manner so as to limit the risk of getting sick with the coronavirus infection via interpersonal contact. In addition to the common condom use facts and other methods of avoiding pregnancy, this interactive course will serve as a playing field for adolescents looking to improve their negotiation and refusal skills. The target population for the ASSET program will be boys and girls aged from 11 to 14 who can be located within urban and rural school settings. After the pilot deployment, the program could be adapted for use with teenagers up to age 18.
The setting of the program will be universal in order to make it possible to deploy such design within various groups of adolescents, irrespective of whether it should be implemented within an urban or rural environment. In the case where the pilot sessions are successful, larger groups of teenagers will be attracted to the ASSET program so as to increase the pace of educating teens and preventing unwanted pregnancy at a young age. It is suggested to hold sessions after school, preferably on Saturdays and Sundays, to make sure that the program does not influence adolescents’ academic performance in any way. The main source of creativity within the framework of the ASSET program will be interactive, technology-based environments supporting real-time discussions. On a long-term scale, this will spark greater economic development in poorer neighborhoods and limit the occurrence of substance use cases and mental health issues in adolescents.
Theory of Paradox
The essential outlook on the proposed program that can be mentioned within the framework of the concerned camp is that all educational programs for adolescents should be sustainable and qualitative. The vital element of any program will be the process of delivering information in a timely manner so as to be able to prevent adolescent pregnancy and ensure that the transition to young adulthood will be completed accurately and swiftly (Fisher et al., 2020). Previous interventions were mostly limited in terms of content or the time allocated for the program delivery. With the ASSET, the concerned camp will be focused on how the different health services could be bridged. The problem with this outlook is that similar education programs have been unsuccessful in the past due to the inequalities between adolescents from different locations and socioeconomic backgrounds (Hadley et al., 2017). Also, an essential concern to be addressed is the need to refine, reinforce, and repeat all the necessary information so as to help adolescents analyze their behaviors and mediate them.
Repetition and reinforcement, for example, are necessary because they might help adolescents focus on their experiences and not back down when encountering difficulties and misunderstandings. The increasing number of questions that remain unanswered within the framework of sexual health education hint at the fact that the level of responsiveness of the intended audience should be increased as well (Vafai et al., 2020). With an all-inclusive approach, the concerned camp will have an opportunity to engage in culturally rich discussions while removing obsolete traces of bias. Knowing that adolescents come from different communities, it should be vital to replicate the best experiences from the past and include them in the educational program to sustain information exchange. The sustainability and quality of the proposed program will be evaluated by adolescents and their parents since interventions affect all of them equally (Moore et al., 2017). The context of care provision is constantly evolving, which means that the next generations will have to focus on interventions that go beyond mere pregnancy prevention.
The ultimate outlook shared by the concerned camp would be the need to design a program that is going to help people address inclusion, racism, and health equity on all societal levels. The family structure and exposure to poverty could have an influence on the prevalence of adolescent pregnancy, with interpersonal and structural racism being at the top of the list of fundamental predictors of teenagers becoming young parents (Thomas Farrell et al., 2017). The negative connotation of a pregnant adolescent still affects the US community to a rather large extent due to the absence of high-quality resources for all citizens regardless of their sex and gender. Without career development and proper access to healthcare, adolescents are forced to live within artificially segregated communities that affect their physical and mental health (Maravilla et al., 2017). The role of society is yet to be described and altered because of the structural inequalities that are not going to disappear on their own.
An impatient perspective on the problem of adolescent pregnancy would require the policymaking body to engage in the development and deployment of clinical services and programs for the youth in question. The rationale for this is the increasing focus on barriers that could avert the government from providing high-quality services to vulnerable populations, such as adolescents who risk being exposed to pregnancy (Akella, 2018). Clinic outreach could be significantly affected by the level of prioritization and planning that would be established by the team. Support and recognition are essential for adolescents, especially when they are affected by secondary health issues that derive from the socioeconomic state of affairs (Smith et al., 2018). In a sense, the new program could be utilized to alter the care delivery setting and avert any kind of marginalization on a long-term scale. Also, the impatient perspective presupposes that youth should be engaged in the policy development process in order for the government to ensure that proposed solutions are relevant for the target population.
Another crucial factor for the impatient camp is the need to maintain the highest quality of care while exerting additional efforts to remove any kind of disparities. The presence of youth-centered approaches is essential because many adolescents may not feel enough support coming from their parents and the government (Fisher et al., 2020). In this case, they will not build enough skills and confidence to approach real-life issues with ease and utilize their connections to ameliorate the possible impact of teenage pregnancy on their lives and the lives of their future children. This is why the impatient camp could also focus on the idea that health literacy should be improved in a dynamic manner, with technology being the founding stone of further strategies (Bewa, 2021). Adolescents shape their sense of agency on the basis of what they see online and what type of information they prefer accessing. Therefore, the use of technology could be an effective way of addressing health disparities that became most evident during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The impatient camp will be focused on the idea of offering sexual education within the school environment while also influencing the overall quality of the learning program for adolescents of various ages. During contemporary times, this could be a much easier task to complete due to the presence of digital instruments that reward online communication and its digital alternatives and byproducts (Baiden et al., 2019). The proposed program will curb the challenging environment and affect the process of exposing adolescents to the risks of the Covid-19 pandemic. A lot of course offerings will have to be altered in line with the needs and wishes of the adolescent population. Even if digital, interactions between adolescents and care providers could significantly maximize the effectiveness of programs similar to the ASSET. The only problem with this outlook on adolescent pregnancy prevention is that some locations may choose not to prioritize this issue due to the lack of resources or the advent of a definite knowledge gap.
As for the satisfied camp, the biggest insight to be shared is that telehealth could become a significant delivery option for care providers and educators working with adolescents. Given that youth experiences numerous barriers when interacting with policies and clinic settings, the proposed program could be seen by the satisfied camp as an opportunity to test new delivery models and enhance the quality of sexual health education (Baiden et al., 2019). Adolescent health services have to be confidential and accessible, which could link the audience back to concerns related to barriers to proper care. The possibility of attaining live communication could prevent adolescents from unwanted pregnancies and protect them from exposure to more health issues. The satisfied camp is most likely to seek consistency and utilize all resources to make sure that the target audience has no problem externalizing their ideas and worries (Hadley et al., 2017). The overall feasibility of new delivery models makes it safe to say that adolescents have access to all the required platforms and resources to engage in the ASSET program.
Lastly, the satisfied camp will benefit from the proposed solution the most in the case where the educational program is deployed across diverse communities where personal factors do not influence the overall success. This socioeconomic perspective represents a crucial opportunity for the government to recognize what could be working with the adolescent population when navigating schools, neighborhoods, and care provision methods (Chase, 2019). In the future, adolescent decision-making will be aligned against past sexual health outcomes with the intention of promoting the importance of personal choices and strong involvement in policymaking. Over time, this would increase the value of equity and social determinants within the intended communities. It will pave the way for numerous improvements across the legal and judicial systems while also shaping adolescents’ worldviews and exposing them to safer decision-making (Akella, 2018). The long-term effects of the proposed program will benefit the satisfied camp from an angle where the next generations will have better access to adequate sexual health education.
Akella, D. (2018). Socio-cultural influences on teenage pregnancy and contemporary prevention measures. IGI Global.
Baiden, P., Mengo, C., Boateng, G. O., & Small, E. (2019). Investigating the association between age at first alcohol use and suicidal ideation among high school students: Evidence from the youth risk behavior surveillance system. Journal of Affective Disorders, 242, 60-67.
Bewa, J. M. (2021). School closures and teenage pregnancy. Bull World Health Organ, 99, 6-7.
Chase, E. (2019). Rethinking the marginalizing discourses around teenage pregnancy. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 40(4), 560-572.
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Fisher, C. M., Kerr, L., Ezer, P., Kneip Pelster, A. D., Coleman, J. D., & Tibbits, M. (2020). Adolescent perspectives on addressing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections in the classroom and beyond. Sex Education, 20(1), 90-100.
Hadley, A., Ingham, R., & Chandra-Mouli, V. (2017). Teenage pregnancy and young parenthood: Effective policy and practice. Routledge.
Maravilla, J. C., Betts, K. S., Cruz, C. C., & Alati, R. (2017). Factors influencing repeated teenage pregnancy: A review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 217(5), 527-545.
Moore, L. V., Thompson, F. E., & Demissie, Z. (2017). Percentage of youth meeting federal fruit and vegetable intake recommendations, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, United States and 33 states, 2013. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 117(4), 545-553.
Paton, D., Bullivant, S., & Soto, J. (2020). The impact of sex education mandates on teenage pregnancy: International evidence. Health Economics, 29(7), 790-807.
Smith, C., Strohschein, L., & Crosnoe, R. (2018). Family histories and teen pregnancy in the United States and Canada. Journal of Marriage and Family, 80(5), 1244-1258.
Summers, L., Lee, Y. M., & Lee, H. (2017). Contributing factors of teenage pregnancy among African-American females living in economically disadvantaged communities. Applied Nursing Research, 37, 44-49.
Thomas Farrell, C., Clyde, A., Katta, M., & Bolland, J. (2017). The impact of sexuality concerns on teenage pregnancy: A consequence of heteronormativity? Culture, Health & Sexuality, 19(1), 135-149.
Vafai, Y., Thoma, M. E., & Steinberg, J. R. (2020). Association between first depressive episode in the same year as sexual debut and teenage pregnancy. Journal of Adolescent Health, 67(2), 239-244.