The United States of America has maximum number cases of teen pregnancy. Considering the fact that instances of teen pregnancy are on the rise, the issue has become of great concern. The rate of teen pregnancy increased due to teens’ complacency but as of late, due to awareness about the involved risks, people have started becoming cautious (“11 Questions With a Teen Pregnancy Expert” par. 1).
If proper guidance is provided to teens, it can be controlled without any problem. If teens are aware of the ways to adopt in order to prevent pregnancy then there would not be any pregnant teen. Waiting for the right time and/or using appropriate contraceptives could be effective solutions.
Apart from the physical consequences, there are certain other factors that the teens should be aware of before opting to get pregnant. Teen pregnancy brings along with it a score of problems: children of teen parents are often incarcerated, teen parents usually are unable to complete their education due to involvement in baby care, due to less education, teen parents have faint chances of getting better job prospects in their lives, etc. As a result of all such issues, teen parents face a risk of financial crisis in future.
Several questions crop up when the issue of teen pregnancy is raised. Arguments for allowing teen pregnancy vary from emotional to socio economic aspects. People who support the idea of substantiating teen pregnancy argue that every woman, irrespective of her age, has a right to motherhood; it should be her decision whether or not to become a mother. This particular argument is related to several other rights such as right to equality, privacy, life, and wellness.
The emotional feature also plays a crucial role in such arguments. Just as incidents of rape and death penalty invoke our emotions, allowing teen pregnancy should also be considered as a human right of women who want to uphold their self-respect. Such an issue has its darker side as well. Human society does not accept the concept of teen pregnancy. However, there are situations when teens conceive babies but due to fear of reprimand from the society, they go for termination of pregnancy.
Most of the teenage girls do not appreciate the idea of getting pregnant but some of them do not mind. Human body is structured to do various functions at specific periods of time (age). Pregnancy is one such thing that should not be favored before the right age. But if at all it happens there are various risks involved. During teen pregnancy, both the mother and child are at great health risk. Some of the associated risks are high blood pressure, premature birth, and immature baby.
Reasons behind increasing instances of teen pregnancy can be better understood by applying Erik Erikson’s theory pertaining to stages of childhood development. In addition to hereditary qualities and characteristics, there are certain behavioral features and temperaments that children develop with age.
Child development is generally confused with growth but as a matter of fact, both are different. While growth signifies the increase in size and age, development means the growth of capabilities. Various scholars have explained such developments by categorizing the age of children into different stages.
Skills of children/youth are related to stepwise (stage wise) progress. Each stage is crucial for development. The transition from one stage to other will be successful if the previous one has been passed. Like for example, a child will not be able to play (fine motor skill) if he/she has not passed the gross motor skill (has not learned how to sit, walk and run).
However, Erik H. Erikson’s psychosocial theory refutes this claim and suggests that it is not necessary to successfully complete all the stages in order to continue growth. At the same time, Erikson believes that the succession of these stages is controlled by nature.
If in case any particular stage is skipped, the person might face difficulties in his/her future life to deal with that particular deficiency. So the fact remains that all the stages have to be passed through successfully.
Though each stage has a specific age limit, children with different capabilities might take less or more time (depending on their capabilities and intelligence) to pass through these them (McLeod 10). The message being passed here is that every physical change in human beings has its own time and youth should not try to prepone such physical changes (like teen pregnancy).
Erikson suggests that the perception of children about their standing in comparison to others matters a lot in their decision making. The children understand themselves and compare their qualities to those of others. On the contrary, there are children who are unable to recognize their talents and as such, cannot compare themselves to other people. Erikson terms this situation as ‘role confusion’. It means that children cannot identify the role that they have to play during communications and interactions with people.
This stage of Erikson’s developmental theory relates to the Genital stage of Freud’s psychosexual theory. Freud believes that during this stage, the sexual urge that had been inactive during the Latency stage is revoked. This happens due to the physical changes experienced by children. Children are confronted with their urge to be close to the opposite sex.
There are certain behavioral changes as well, according to which children start behaving abnormally and disrespectfully. As a result of diversion of attention, children become reckless and take their schoolwork lightly. The reason is that their preferences have changed and they are now concentrating all their energy on something else that is unproductive (McLeod 7).
As a matter of fact, the United States of America records the maximum cases of teen pregnancy, the cost of which amounts to USD 9 billion annually. Considering the case of Florida brings forth astonishing figures pertaining to teen pregnancy. Following are the facts pertaining to unintended and teen pregnancy in Florida:
- In 2008, out of the 221,000 pregnancies, only 41% were intended (by will).
- The unintended pregnancy rate was 6.2 percent in 2008, whereas during the same period, the national rate was 3.3 percent.
- Teen pregnancy rate in 2008 was 6 percent in comparison to national rate of 6.8 percent.
- Out of the overall unintended pregnancies in 2008, 50 percent were successful in giving birth, while 37 percent were aborted and 13 percent were miscarriages.
- In 2008, out of the total births, the unintended ones were 47 as compared to national rate of 39 percent (Guttmacher Institute 1).
Expenses incurred on births from unintended pregnancy cost a lot to the national and state exchequers. In 2008 alone, such expenses amounted to USD 12.5 billion. Under such circumstances, it is a matter to ponder upon.
Answer to questions on whether teen pregnancy should be endorsed or not depends on various attributes (Jelen and Wilcox 3). Such attributions can be enlisted as:
- The pregnant mother’s life is at risk
- The pregnancy is a result of a sex against the will of the mother
- The unborn child has some defects
- The family cannot afford another child
- The pregnant mother is single and doesn’t want to get married
- The married couple don’t want more children
Teen pregnancy usually happens due to negligence of parents who are unable to guide their children properly. Parental affection and sufficient care and continuous supervision could easily remove elevated inconsistency of behavioral approach that appears crucial; the parental modeling in the course of insensitive along with violent management of the children are deeply associated to the enlarged risk than the youth afterwards involved with violent offending at the higher age.
Thus, the family background of youth along with their parental attitude have a greater potential to reducing anti-social behavior of the young generation, the interaction between the impact of ruthless or else submissive, even conflicting parenting would lead the child or youth to the pro-criminal modeling from his family where parents are the mastermind for corrective measures.
Florida Risk Behavior Survey 2013 revealed very appalling results about the problem of teen pregnancy among youth. According to the survey, 44 percent of the respondents had sexual interactions. What is more disturbing is the fact that 7 percent of the respondents revealed that they had sexual interactions even before the age of 13 years.
Yet another awful revelation was that 13 percent respondents had sexual interactions with more than four people. 13 percent respondents did not use any protective methods during sexual interactions (CDC 1). Girls are becoming pregnant at younger ages and it is believed that children born to such mothers face the risk of becoming teen mothers themselves (Foss 11).
11 Questions with a Teen Pregnancy Expert.
CDC 2013, HIV, Other STD, and Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Florida Students.
Foss, Jessica 2012, Teen Pregnancy in Florida: Does Manatee County Have a High Rate of Teen Pregnancy in Comparison With The Surrounding Counties?
Guttmacher Institute 2014, State Facts about Unintended Pregnancy: Florida.
Jelen, Ted and Clyde Wilcox 2003, Causes and Consequences of Public Attitudes toward Abortion: A Review and Research Agenda.
McLeod, Saul 2013, Erik Erikson.