Adolescent pregnancy may be defined as teenage becoming pregnant. The term is usually used to refer to young girls aged between the ages of thirteen and nineteen becoming pregnant and especially out of wedlock. It may also refer to women who have not reached lawful adulthood becoming pregnant (Spitz 992).
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Adolescent pregnancy is caused by many varying factors. There are some communities that support early marriages and are more sensitive to gender roles, which expose their young girls to underage pregnancies. Such communities are not opposed to teenage pregnancies as they consider it a blessing because it acts as evidence that the young girl is actually fertile (Still 15).
In communities where early marriages are abolished, adolescent pregnancy usually comes as an accident i.e. unplanned. In such communities, the factors that often lead to teenage pregnancy include adolescent sexual behavior. Most adolescents do engage in premarital and unprotected sex, which exposes them to high risks of getting pregnant (Alan 137). Some communities are however not opposed to an adolescent sexual relationship, thus provide them with appropriate information concerning sexuality, which reduces the rate of teenage pregnancy.
Lack of knowledge and access to contraceptives is another factor leading to adolescent pregnancy. The adolescents may fear going to seek information about the contraceptives and thus end up having unprotected sex. The adolescents’ being sexually active seems to engage in a sexual act with more than one partner some of whom may avoid using condoms exposing them to high risks of becoming pregnant. Some adolescents who have access to contraceptives do not seem to use them appropriately (Abma 50). For example, adolescents with less understanding about the use of condoms may not use them correctly. Young women using oral contraceptives may at times forget to take them.
In addition, age difference among partners is also a contributing factor to teenage pregnancy. Studies have shown that teenage girls involved in relationships with adult men are at a high risk of getting pregnant as compared to those involved in sexual relationships with their age mates (Ventura 5).
Rape is another factor causing pregnancy among teenagers. There is a realization that over sixty percent of the adolescents’ mothers at one time in their lives had experienced an incident of rape. Men at the age of twenty-five and above in most cases attempt to abuse teenage girls sexually (Thomas 96).
Depression and lack of self-esteem among adolescents may lead them to engage in sexual activity with the assumption that it may make them feel better. Girls brought up by parents with diverted attention and dejection also want to seek warmth elsewhere thus may end up getting involved in sexual activities as a way of nurturing their souls, therefore, exposing them to the risk of teenage pregnancy (Seitz 87).
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The use of alcohol and other addictive drugs i.e. drug abuse also exposes adolescent girls to high risks of pregnancy. This is because when using drugs the adolescents cannot make appropriate decisions concerning sexual partners and the use of contraceptives. They are thus exposed to high risks of getting pregnant as they get involved with several sexual partners and in most cases those older than them.
Girls from single-mother families seem to be at a high risk of sexual molestation from older men. This is because these teenage girls lacked a male role model in their early lives and are in danger of being attracted to the attention of older men from whom they may want to seek fatherly care as well as seeking love and intimacy (Singh 17).
Immaturity is yet another factor making adolescents be at high risk of becoming pregnant. Most adolescents especially those below the age of sixteen lack the mental capacity to think as adults. They are therefore not in a position to make proper decisions that can enable them to understand the consequences of their present behaviors on their future lives. They tend to live more at the moment and so only care about what they are doing but not what will happen later. This situation worsens their sexual behaviors exposing them to high risks of getting pregnant (Armstrong 239).
There is a myth that is experienced by adolescents especially those at the early stage of adolescence called the personal myth. This makes them feel sheltered from risky behaviors and that they may never experience any negative consequences. Adolescents who develop this assumption find themselves at very high risks of bad sexual behavior if not properly guided by their parents. They are thus endangered by the consequences of premarital sex, pregnancy is one of them (Checkland, David & James 432).
Finally, some adolescents get pregnant because they want to. Some teenagers think that by getting pregnant their partners will be happier with them and give them more love and attention. Some get pregnant because girls in their social group are mothers and they think they have increased material benefit (Dash 36).
Nevertheless, several measures can be taken to reduce or prevent adolescent pregnancy. One of these measures is the use of contraceptives. Adolescent girls should be made access to contraceptives. Apart from increasing access, they should be given enough information concerning the use of these contraceptives. Men involved in sexual relationships with teenage girls should be encouraged to use a condom every time they engage in sexual activity to stop them from impregnating the adolescent girls (“Centers for Disease Control & Prevention” 872).
Both parents should participate in raising their girls up and give special attention and care at a young age. This will make them become less active sexually and when they become sexually active, they will know how to make the right decisions when choosing sexual partners and on the use of contraceptives. They will therefore have very little to do with the older men thus reducing their risks of becoming pregnant (Oliver 54).
Parents should discuss with their adolescent girls the issue of sex. This will make them stay longer before starting to engage in sexual activity, as they will be informed of the risk of premarital sex and the consequences of childbearing at an early age.
In addition to this, parents should also encourage their adolescent children to participate in church activities. Teenagers who devote most of their time to church activities will delay engaging in sexual activities, as their minds will be occupied with other things thus will not be idle to start thinking of sexual relationships. In addition, they will be taught moral issues and ways of life and the negative consequences of engaging in sexual activities at an early age (“National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy” 563).
It is during the period of adolescence that the sexuality of a child becomes enhanced and the desire to engage in a sexual activity developed. Parents and other members of the community should therefore take it upon themselves to provide appropriate guidance to the adolescents to get through this period in the right way. Adolescents should also be informed of the consequences of teenage motherhood.
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