“Each year in the U. S. almost one million teenagers become pregnant–at enormous costs to themselves, their children, and society”. (Pregnant Teen Help, Teen Pregnancy Statistics) Some would argue that teen pregnancy is all glorified. Other individuals would protest that it is too influential. Teen pregnancy is a rising social problem in the United States and among other countries. Teen pregnancy is now being publicized as multi media corporations, with shows such as “16 &ump; Pregnant”, “Teen Mom”, “Maury”, “Secret Life of the American Teenager”, and “Juno”.
All of which concentrate on teen pregnancy. These shows or movies could be informational for young people. However, the shows display an altered reality that teen pregnancy is easy, laughs and joy. Dispite what the shows might portray teen pregnancy is an uprising national and global epidemic. In the past teen pregnancy has been an underline issue that is vastly taking center stage. Media, education, and economy are all components to this phenomenon, nevertheless, how are they all connected? All of which will all be addressed in the contents of this paper.
Which leaves the burning question: is teen pregnancy accepted into our society as a norm, or is it still a deviant act? First and for most, there are many different definitions of teenage pregnancy depending on the source of the information. However, as a broad definition defines teenage pregnancy as “a female typically between the ages of thirteen and nineteen, typically who hasn’t completed her core education – secondary schools – has few or no marketable skills, is financially dependent upon an older adult typically her parents and or continues to live at home and is typically mentally immature”. Adolescent Health) Most importantly, it states that a person who is not financially or mentally stable and that is not ready to have an offspring. Teen pregnancy is becoming more popular in the media and from a political, and educational standpoint; an underlying social problem that is now making itself known. In addition to the previous statement, the more media attention this problem receives the stronger the message sends to the young women that teenage pregnancy can be an acceptable way of life.
Movies, TV shows, magazines, and music forces sex into the media but never gives light to the consequences to the actions, and the outcomes. They do not take into consideration the statistics, or the facts. Instead of looking at the reality of the situation at hand young females are seeing the overvalued media version of what it is like to be a young mother. Society takes brilliant ideas that are informative, and helpful for teens and twists the intended purpose to show that “yes, it is ok to be “16 and pregnant””.
Our society is saying to these young women that it is ok to blow past your youth years and to rush into adult hood. It is accepted to have a child while still being a child yourself. This is not a trend, it is not a myth. These are broken down from facts that the media is sending out to these young daughters. Simultaneously, there are facts and organizations that have dedicated their time and effort for teen girls. They are there to make a difference. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention they stated that it is estimated that more than 400,000 teen girls, aged 15-19 years, give birth each year in the US.
Even though teen pregnancy is a vastly growing social problem the statistics state from multiple different sources that, sense 1991 teenage pregnancy has declined around 40 percent. However, even if the number of young females is declining the issue is more apparent than ever. (Pregnant Teen Help, Teen Pregnancy Statistics) The media often glamorize teens having sexual intercourse and teen parenting, but the reality is starkly different. Having a child during the teen years carries high costs—emotional, physical, and financial—to the mother, father, child, and community.
Parents, educators, public health and medical professionals, and community organizations all have a role to play in reducing teen pregnancy. Help is here. Help and support is everywhere, you just need to know where to look. The organization “The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy” is a great place to start. There website has short video clips, statistics and a place to feel welcome. Their mission is to seek and improve the well being of the children, the young mother and the families.
The National Campaign feels that it is important because teen pregnancy and also unplanned pregnancy for that matter among young adults is part of the root of the problems to important public issues, and ultimately social challenges. Their part and role in this problem is to work in the areas that need the most help. For example: to strengthen the cultures assumptions of personal responsibilities regarding sex, getting pregnant and most importantly bring a child into this world. They also support the use of contraception’s and provide the proper information of the different echniques. (National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, About Us) Ultimately the National Campaign provides more and better education to the teens that this affects such as the parents, the young adults; everyone, and anyone who could be affected by this social problem. Another suggestion besides The National Campaign is “Advocates for Youth”. They are an organization that is publically funded. Like the National Campaign their mission is to help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.
Advocates believes it can best serve the field by boldly advocating for a more positive and realistic approach to adolescent sexual health. Advocates focuses its work on young people ages 14-25 in the U. S. and around the globe. The advocates have a three “R” system which includes Rights: Youth have the right to accurate and complete sexual health information, confidential reproductive and sexual health services, and a secure stake in the future. Respect: Youth deserve respect. Valuing young people means involving them in the design, implementation and evaluation of programs and policies that affect their health and well-being.
Lastly, Responsibility: Society has the responsibility to provide young people with the tools they need to safeguard their sexual health, and young people have the responsibility to protect them from too-early childbearing and sexually transmitted infections. They may seem like the typical organization to help with teen pregnancy but this is how they are different. (Advocates for Youth, About Us) Advocates for Youth are the only organization that works both in the United States and in developing countries with a sole focus on adolescent reproductive and sexual health.
For another example, there is also some that are closer to home no matter where you are located. “Plan Parenthood” is a perfect place for information, privacy, and support. Their mission is to work and improve women’s health and safety, prevent unintended pregnancies, and advance the right and ability of individuals and families to make informed and responsible choices. Plan Parenthood is many things to many different people they take pride in providing trust community care, informing and educating the community, leading the reproductive health and rights movement and advancing in global health.
At Plan Parenthood they strive to deliver comprehensive and medically accurate information that empowers women, men, teens, and families to make informed choices and lead healthy lives. At Plan Parenthood there are skilled health care professionals that are dedicated to offering men, women, and teens high-quality, affordable medical care. (Planned Parenthood, Who We Are) The staff takes time to talk with clients, encouraging them to ask questions in an environment that millions have grown to trust. Most importantly, there are pros and cons to each of the organizations listed.
For “Plan Parenthood”, the pros consist of the abilities with staffing, nurses and physicians, the first hand contact, experience and the privacy that they offer to each patient. The cons that coincide with Plan Parenthood are, it is government funded and the main payment per patient is mostly donation based. (Planned Parenthood. ) For “Youth Advocates”, the organization is globally and not locally. They have information and resources regarding many different areas and topics which lead to more care and knowledge for all age groups, social problems and issues.
They also have the abilities to send information, and to help people who are in need of it. The con for this organization is that it is mainly on the web. They do have ways to contact them and offices but there is not a place to go personally and talk to someone one on one. (Advocates for Youth, About Us) Lastly, the “National Campaign” does offer funding with qualified applicants. They also offer representatives to speak at conferences and other public functions.
The down fall however, to this organization is that there may not be a local office for this organization near you, which could limit the help that it will be able to provide. (National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, About Us) In addition, to the pros and cons of each organization there are possible solutions that each of them offers specifically. For instance, Plan Parenthood offers the medical aspect of teen pregnancy with doctor’s visits, birth control, contraceptives, and STD testing. This provides the option to prevent teen pregnancy to the best of their abilities.
Both of the other agencies talk about and provide information about abstinence programs. Also, to inform the teens about sex and the consequences. (Planned Parenthood, Who We Are) The thought is if the teens are educated in the issue then they will make informed and better choices. There are many different choices to help with preventing teen pregnancy. There are also many social institutions that come into play. In continuous with the previous statement, there are a number of major social institutions that con tribute both positively and negatively to this social roblem. This all depends however, on the influence that they choose to portray and the message that the young people take away from the message. For example: media is quite possibly one of the most influential social institutions. Studies show that teens more than likely girls than boys who are exposed to extreme sexual content in media in general such as music, shows, and movies are twice as likely to experience teen pregnancy in the following three years compared to others who had lower levels of sexual exposure in the media. Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 116(1), 281-286), (Adolescent Health) With shows such as “Teen Mom” and “16 &ump; Pregnant” they are very influential but the longer that the show continues the affects and the purpose of the shows will no longer be positive, but more negative. The message that it is now portraying is that it is ok to be a young mom. It is ok to have a child young. The media could have the opposite effect, but that is not what attracts the general population at this moment in time. In comparison to media, education is also a major contributing factor to teen pregnancy.
When a teen becomes pregnant, education goals may become secondary and ways of achieving those goals may grow less clear. (Pregnant Teen Help, Teenage Pregnancy and Education) Recent studies have shown that adolescents who reported having received comprehensive sex education were significantly less likely to report a teen pregnancy, compared with those who received no sex education at all. The same study shows a comparison to links between low income households, minimal education levels, and race, all links to higher levels of teen pregnancy. Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 116(1), 281-286) The key is education. With any type of sexual education classes studies prove that the percentage of teen pregnancies is significantly lower than people who have never taken some formal education class. Teenagers need encouragement, and the proper education to make the informed choices. Education is the start to that, however, it cannot stand alone. Other major institutions need to change their share of this problem as well. Finally, the last major social institution that leaves an influential mark on teen pregnancy is the economy.
In the same study in the previous paragraph, the studies conducted states that there is a significant link between family income, social structure, residence area, race, availability of education and teen pregnancy. The study shows that typically a person who is part of a low family income, in a low income residential area, and is typically a minority will be more likely to become a statistic of teen pregnancy. (Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 116(1), 281-286) How are all three major social institutions linked together for teenage pregnancy?
You cannot have one without the other two. Media, contributes to the social side of teen pregnancy saying to teens “it is ok to be young and have a child. ” It unrealistically shows that everyone is doing it, and yes, it will be easy and I will have people to help me the whole way. Teen pregnancy is glamorized to be something it is not by the media; which is a contributing factor when an adolescent does not have the proper education regarding abstinence, or contraception’s. In turn, that leads to the link between education and the economy and the level on the economic scale that they fall into.
They may not have the means to the right education because of their family’s income. So all the adolescent knows is what they are interoperating in the media. In most cases, people tend to think that “this will never happen to me”. You might be right, you might be one of the “lucky” ones, all the same, that is not always the case. In the previous paragraphs there have been stated places to go to be better informed, and to be provided with the right necessities for teen pregnancy.
In my 2009 graduating class alone in a small country side town, it was estimated that around 15-20 people had parented a child by the time we had graduated. My own cousin was “16 &ump; pregnant”. She does go through struggles, everyday is a challenge. The cost of food, diapers, doctor’s visits, transportation, getting up at 2AM, and ultimately, coming to the realization that you do have to “wave” goodbye to your teenage years when you have a child.
Instead of thinking of yourself, it is all about your child, which sadly enough some young parents are not ready to do. Teen pregnancy is not something that will just affect one person. It affects everyone in that person’s life. It is interesting how one small choice, or one mistake impacts the lives of so many different people. As a thought, reducing teen pregnancy and birth is one of the most effective ways of reducing child poverty in the country. Even with the organizations and agencies available teen pregnancy continues to be a social problem.
With multiple factors to take into consideration such as media, education, and economy, why can the population not find a solution? In conclusion, teenage pregnancy is a social problem that has become more prominent in the past years. To leave with one last shocking and skin crawling statistic, more than 2/3 of all teenagers who have a baby will not graduate from high school. (Pregnant Teen Help, pg 1. ) Knowing those statistics, how can you deny that teen pregnancy is in fact still a deviant act compared to a social norm, and that it is a social problem?