It's hard to raise a child when you're still a child ~ Anonymous
Teenage pregnancy is an issue that is experienced throughout the world, and is a major concern due to the consequences associated with teenagers bearing children. Premarital sex, whether forced or consensual, is a common occurrence, and many teens are bearing the brunt of parenthood.
Teenage Pregnancy Statistics
According to Save the Children (a leading international organization), 13 million children are born to teenagers each year; 90% of these births occur in the developing countries. It is also believed that the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the world is found in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), it was seen that 329,797 babies were born in the year 2011 in the United States. The age group of these pregnant women was between 15 to 19 years; hence, they come under the category of 'teen moms'. The live birth rate was 31.3 per 1000 for the women in this age demographic. The birth rate fell to 11% for women aged 15 - 17 years, and 7% for women aged 18 - 19 years, when compared to the statistics of the previous year. The main reason for the decline in numbers has not been proven. It has been observed that teens who are sexually active have been using birth control methods like condoms and contraceptive medication more than what they previously did.
Other Important Facts
- Even though there has been a decline in teen pregnancies in the US, around 34% of teenage girls have at least one pregnancy before they reach the age of 20 years.
- At least 79% of the teens that get pregnant are single mothers.
- About 25% of teen mothers have a second child, within two years of having their first child.
- 80% of these pregnancies are accidental.
- The rise in 'teen moms' are in the age group below 15 years.
- Today, at least 33% of teen pregnancies lead to abortions.
- Sons of teenage mothers are more likely to serve some jail time, and there is a higher chance that the daughters go on to become teenage mothers themselves.
- The teen pregnancy rate in the United States of America is twice as that of Canada, four times that of Germany and France, and eight times that of Japan.
- Complications during pregnancy and childbirth is a major cause of deaths of teen mothers, between the ages 15 to 19, in developing countries.
Causes of Teenage Pregnancy
While discussing the issue of teen pregnancy, it is very important to think about the possible reasons that are responsible for this development. One of the most important reasons for teen pregnancies are the way in which adolescents perceive sex. For most teenagers, lack of proper sex education, and the portrayal of sex through the mass media result in an inappropriate and rather careless approach about the concept of sex. Most of the teenagers lack the maturity and understanding about the phenomenon of sex, and often get carried away in the moment.
Unprotected sex leads to teen pregnancies, which later results in abortions. Even if a teen decides to give birth to her child, the process of raising a child is extremely difficult, and hampers many factors like the education of the mother, financial stability, etc. to name a few.
Pregnancies can also result from sexual abuse of teenage girls. Instances of teenage pregnancies resulting from abuse by sexual predators, or even date rapes have been on the rise. Dealing with a pregnancy can be even more difficult in such cases, due to the emotional as well as physical trauma that the victim undergoes. The Internet might have been a great source of communication, but has emerged as an easy option for potential sex offenders to lure and victimize young girls. In some countries, child marriage is a common practice, which leads to teenage girls being forced into motherhood at a very young age. Obviously, a girl is not ready for motherhood, both physically and emotionally, in those tender years.
Understanding Teen Abortions
Most people put in a lot of thought and planning before they decide that they want to have children. Raising a child is no easy task, and requires a lot of psychological, physical, as well as financial backing. The first and the most important thing about teenage pregnancy is that the teenage is a very tender and vulnerable period. That's why, teenagers lack the physical as well as psychological maturity required for conceiving and raising a kid. Pregnancies can be extremely difficult to deal with, not only for the expecting teen, but her entire family too, and might have an effect on the younger siblings of the teenager as well.
Continuing education becomes very difficult for someone who has a child at a very young age, which again leads to an unstable future with less employment opportunities. This affects the quality of living of both the mother as well as the child.
The risks associated with childbirth are higher for girls under the age of 14. An underdeveloped pelvis often leads to complications during childbirth. A C-section option can be used for dealing with obstructed labor. However, in developing regions, where medical services might be unavailable or not up to the mark, it can lead to obstetric fistula, eclampsia, infant mortality, or even maternal death.
Apart from the physical issues regarding abortions, there are also psychological effects that should be considered. Depression due to guilt is one of the main causes for a disturbed mental status of the pregnant teen. Most teens, who abort, harbor the feeling of regret throughout their life. They turn into a hollow shell and are unresponsive. Some also resort to self-harming such as cutting themselves, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. In such cases, the teens who have had an abortion should go in for counseling, so that they can learn deal with their emotional issues. Family members should also be supportive and understanding in such situations.