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Problems of Adolescent Pregnancy in Modern Society

Adolescent pregnancy is a serious issue that needs much discussion as it is involved with the future citizens of the world. Adolescent pregnancy or teenage pregnancy may be defined as the phenomenon of teenage girls becoming pregnant within or without wedlock. The term is usually used to refer to young girls who are between the ages of thirteen and nineteen becoming pregnant, especially when it is out of wedlock. It may also refer to women who have not reached lawful adulthood becoming pregnant (Spitz 1992), even though they may be married. Most people recognize teenage pregnancy as a serious social problem that affects not only the girls involved but also the society at large. Besides, it hampers the process of social development because of its being a cause for health problems in adolescents apart from being mental stress in the girls as well as their families.

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Adolescent pregnancy carries a lot of personal, ethical, physical, and psychological problems. Most sexually active adolescents are not aware of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and contraception, and HIV infection. As it is an age of transition, adolescence is a crucial period in one’s life. An adolescent suffers from mental and physical stresses in his or her life. The serious matter of pregnancy adds some serious emotional stress. An adolescent pregnant is forced to drop out of school and working place. Poor nutrition and low resistance capacities are also serious factors in adolescent pregnancy. The journal article titled ‘Contraception and Adolescent Pregnancy’ remarks that “Pregnant adolescents and their partners tend to drop out of school or job training, thus worsening their economic status, lowering their self-esteem, and straining personal relationships.” (Contraception and Adolescent Pregnancy) These subsidiary problems like worsening economic status, Lowering self-esteem and poor personal relationship lead them to social isolation.

Abortion and other treatments do not avoid psychological problems. Emotional stresses and family atmosphere influence an adolescent pregnancy both mentally and physically. The web article named Problems of adolescent pregnancy’ gives important statistical data about adult pregnancy. It says:” Studies have shown that up to 22% of pregnant adolescents suffer physical violence during the pregnancy, with direct aggression to the abdomen not uncommon.” (Lete). There is a chance of emotional crises after pregnancy is diagnosed. Reactions of parents may affect pregnant adolescents and this leads them to be introverts. Serious health problems and emotional stresses of an adolescent pregnant affect the newborn baby. Teenage motherhood can affect the physiological and psychological development of an infant. Mental disabilities and behavioral problems are increased in children born to adolescent mothers. Another major problem is that adolescent mothers are not capable of giving proper and effective stimulation to their infants. The infant mortality rate for teenage pregnancies is obviously higher than other women in their twenties. Another serious issue related to adolescent pregnancy is the possibility of abortion which is a safe and reasonable option for managing Adolescence pregnancy and other related issues.

Various reasons can be cited out for adolescent pregnancy. Most of the studies prove the fact that biological maturity appears in teenagers before they become emotionally mature. The lack of emotional maturity leads them to engage in sexual contact without thinking of the reality or of its aftereffect. One of the major factors that play a vital role in giving a false message to children is the modern culture. It provides them with a false concept of sexuality and sexual relationships before marriage. These concepts often bring to their minds the illusion that a sexual relationship before marriage is not a crime and is generally accepted. In bringing such an illusion to their minds, media play a prominent role. As the internet and television are the most influential media of modern times, they very often mislead adolescents and provide them the opportunity to view different programs with adult content. The opportunity of adolescents to use the vast world of the internet has a wide impact on their character formation as it contains both good and bad content. The different websites on the internet containing sexual content promote a false concept of sexuality in adolescents and their eagerness lead them to sexual intercourse and pregnancy. Different journals and magazines with sexual content also mislead adolescents.

Religion is the other factor that causes adolescent pregnancy in some of the Afro-Asian and Arabian countries. Some of the religious groups in these countries support early marriages and are more sensitive to gender roles, which expose their young girls to underage pregnancies. These premature marriages are connected with their religious beliefs and such communities do not oppose teenage pregnancies as they consider it a blessing because it acts as evidence that the young girl is actually fertile (Ventura 15). These early marriage systems sometimes lead to sexual exploitation of the upper class to the lower, as they have the dominance of power and religion.

In communities where early marriages are banned, 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.

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Adults also have prominent roles in leading adolescents to sexuality. Many adults seduce teenagers and exploit them sexually. There are various reasons for adult exploitation. The adults or the older boys who have the stereotyped view of sexuality may sexually oppress a teenage girl, in order to affirm his masculinity. They may also think that it is easier to control someone who is younger. They think that if a teenage girl is sexually exploited, there is not much possibility for her to reveal it to others and he can continue his exploitation. Another reason for the sexual exploitation that leads to adolescent pregnancy is the unsuccessful relationships of the adults who may turn to prey on young teens. If she is getting pregnant, the adult will either give up or force her to get it aborted which may lead her to depression. But one cannot say that these things occur in all cases. 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). It may be because the adults regard adolescent girls as only a means to satisfy their lust. When regarding these sexually exploited girls, they are totally unaware of its aftereffect.

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 (Ventura 10).

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).

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.

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).

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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.

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.

Teenage pregnancy is also associated with early dating, as early dating is more likely to end up in early conception. Teenagers who abuse substances are more likely to become pregnant. There is a direct association between drinking alcohol and having sex. Alcohol is considered one of the main risk factors for teenage pregnancy. Alcohol increases the chances of involving in risky sex relationships as people are less likely to use contraceptives under the influence of alcohol. Other main causes of teenage pregnancies are dropping out from school, lack of support system, or lack of friends, withdrawal from the community or family activities, low expectation, lives in a community, which has no concerns about early childbearing, and considers early childbearing as common or accepted.

Poverty is one of the major causes of teenage pregnancy as teenagers from low-socio-economic classes are more vulnerable to become victims of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. Children of teenage parents from the low economic backgrounds are vulnerable to become teenage parents. Teenage pregnancies are associated with multi factors. It is associated with ignorance about contraception, unavailability of contraception, longing to become a parent, passion for physical excitement, and for love.

As adolescent pregnancy is a serious issue that affects nations in many respects, there should be proper measures to control it. In most rapes, the victim is either severely injured or mutilated. When speaking of the physical injury and assault, Nancy E. Walker claims that “More than 80% report being physically assaulted; about one-fourth of these have had broken bones.” (Walker, 2). One of the methods that can be applied for its prevention is to make the students and teenagers aware of sexual exploitation and its far-reaching effects. Teachers and parents are capable of controlling their children by reminding them of the reality of sexual exploitation; physical and mental problems, a bright future that is awaiting them in the educational field, etc. To lessen these problems, it would be better to implement a sexual coercion/exploitation prevention education program among teenagers. The study conducted for the Virginia Department of Health Center for Injury and Violence Prevention under the leadership of Franklin L. Robert suggests the following prevention education program against sexual coercion/exploitation. (Franklin ).

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In the case of teenagers getting pregnant, in most cases, the victim is either blamed or subjected to severe criticism. But Franklin is of the view that if they are criticized, there is a possibility for them to be depressed or to commit suicide. Adolescents should be aware of gender roles and stereotypes and their weaknesses. Only they shall be mentally bold enough to face any difficult situation of life. The elders can lead the children in the proper way making them figure out what they want from a relationship. A child should know how to respect others as he expects to be respected. Generally, society is one-eyed regarding adolescent pregnancy. Society tends to blame only the girl and in most cases, the boy is left out, but Franklin stresses that both boys and girls can be victims. Elders should discuss with the teens about power, sexuality, and violence and help the teenagers to understand appropriate and inappropriate behavior. The boys should be given enough information on how they can express their masculinity in non-explosive non-violent ways.

To conclude, one can infer that there are many reasons for adolescent pregnancy. It is a serious issue that needs much attention from parents and teachers and strict laws from the government to prevent the problem. The reasons for adolescent pregnancy include poverty, use of alcohol, lack of proper education, early marriage, religion, the effect of modern culture, media-internet, television, magazines, journals, etc. most of the studies prove that a good preventive education program, implemented among adolescents and the parents will be capable of alleviating adolescent pregnancy and concerned issues. There should be attempts from the government and other social service organizations to control the use of alcohol among teenagers that causes adolescent pregnancy. As adolescents are regarded as the wealth of the nation, immediate measures should be undertaken to control the younger generation from engaging in such malpractices, and sincere attempts to motivate and guide them to goodness. Then only one can assure the bright future of a nation.

References

“Births to teenagers in the United States, 1940-2000.” National Vital Statistics Abma, J.A. et al. Family planning on women’s health. London: Chicago Press, 1902.

Alan, Guttmacher. Consumers’ and emotions in sex encounters. Irwin: McGraw-Hill, 1994.

Armstrong, Bruce. Adolescent Pregnancy in Alex Gitterman: Where should your child go to school? Economic Review, 2nd edition. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2001.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Primary models for evaluation and evaluation United States, 1995-1997. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report 2000; 49, 605-1111.

Checkland, David and James W. Teen. Purchaser Examiner, Cognition and Trait Bases. Toronto, Canada; Buffalo, NY: University of Toronto Press, 1999.

Contraception and Adolescent Pregnancy. Merck Mannuals. 2003. Web.

Dash, Leon. When Children want Children: Service Performance by the Industries. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2003.Web.

Lete, Lasa I. Problems of Adolescent Pregnancy. 2009. Web.

National crusade to stop youngster Pregnancy. Halfway There. Du Bois biography of a race, 1868-1919. New York: Henry Holt and Co.,1993.

Oliver, R. Revised pregnancy in birth control. London: Chicago Press,1993. Reports. 49 (10) 2001: 1-19.

Seitz, Victoria. Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting: Making life significant. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996.

Spitz, A.M. et al. Birth rate, adolescent, pregnancy. Fudan University Press: Ling Beijing University Press, 2006.

Ventura, S.J. et al. Youths prégnance: Preparing for the Twenty-First Century. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994.

Walker, Nancy E. Executive Summary. 2009. Web.

Franklin, Robert L. Sexual Coercion and Sexual Exploration of Motor Teens. 2009. Web.

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