Teen childbearing is one of the most debatable issues in the contemporary American society. It has been acknowledged that adolescent mothers tend to start smoking (cigarettes or marijuana) or binge drinking (Fletcher 209). Clearly, young females (those under 18 years old) may have various health issues during the pregnancy and labor or even be prone to miscarriages (Weed, Nicholson, and Farris 74).
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It has been estimated that teen childbearing cost almost $11 billion in 2008 (Plastino 493). Researchers often claim that the negative consequences (especially economic losses of the country) are overestimated (Weed, Nicholson, and Farris 72). However, everyone agrees that adolescent mothers often have fewer educational and job opportunities as they have to balance their family and work. Clearly, such outcomes (both personal and national) reveal the complexity and urgency of the issue. It is essential to identify particular reasons for teen childbearing and possible strategies to handle it.
It has been acknowledged that socioeconomic factors are central to the problem. Minority groups are the most vulnerable due to their low economic status and lack of job opportunities. The situation is quite alarming in some states. For instance, 72% of “all teen births in California were to Latina adolescents” in 2009 (Minnis et al. 334). The researchers also note that Hispanic adolescent mothers tend to see their economic difficulties as the major reason for their behaviors and choices made.
It is also found that adolescents often have unprotected sex that is associated with substance abuse (Basch 615). Researchers note that juvenile delinquents are more likely to have children than their peers (Barrett et al. 970). The rate of delinquents among underprivileged groups is significantly higher than among middle-class youth. Therefore, it is essential to address two major aspects. It is important to provide more opportunities for the underprivileged youth and improve their education especially when it comes to sex or risky behaviors.
Clearly, it is nearly impossible to make sure that all teenagers will obtain higher education and land a good job. However, it is possible to provide more educational opportunities through courses for underprivileged groups. These can be extracurricular activities (aimed at equipping teenagers with certain occupational skills or knowledge) and activities that “enhance their self-identities and future aspirations” (Basch 617). Of course, these young people should also have efficient sex education courses. It is essential to make sure that young people understand the outcomes of risky behaviors. Importantly, they should have the necessary skills to avoid such behaviors. They should be prepared to resist peer pressure and address other issues they may encounter.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that socioeconomic issues underprivileged groups face can be seen as the primary factors contributing to the increase in the rate of teen childbearing. One of the most cost-effective strategies that can have almost immediate outcomes is education and support. Young people should have more educational opportunities to find employment, and they should know more about consequences of their behavior as well as ways to avoid risky behavior.
Barrett, David E., Antonis Katsiyannis, Dalun Zhang, and J. B. Kingree. “Predictors of Teen Childbearing Among Delinquent and Non-Delinquent Females”. Journal of Child and Family Studies 24.4 (2014): 970-978. Print.
Basch, Charles E. “Teen Pregnancy and the Achievement Gap Among Urban Minority Youth”. Journal of School Health 81.10 (2011): 614-618. Print.
Fletcher, Jason M. “The Effects of Teenage Childbearing on the Short- and Long-Term Health Behaviors of Mothers”. Journal of Population Economics 25.1 (2011): 201-218. Print.
Minnis, Alexandra M., Kristen Marchi, Lauren Ralph, M. Antonia Biggs, Sarah Combellick, Abigail Arons, Claire D. Brindis, and Paula Braveman. “Limited Socioeconomic Opportunities and Latina Teen Childbearing: A Qualitative Study of Family and Structural Factors Affecting Future Expectations”. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 15.2 (2012): 334-340. Print.
Plastino, Kristen A. “Teen Pregnancy Prevention”. Southern Medical Journal 106.9 (2013): 493-494. Print.
Weed, Keri, Jody S Nicholson, and Jaelyn Renee Farris. Teen Pregnancy and Parenting. New York: Routledge, 2014. Print.