I chose to research teenage pregnancy because I thought it was a really interesting topic that affects teenagers all around the world. I first became aware of this when I was listening to a podcast on NPR. They discussed the struggle of completing one’s education when also dealing with pregnancy. Also, it mentioned on a school that was created solely for those dealing with teenage pregnancy or teenage moms. During my research, I thought of two things that would help pregnant teenagers and teenage moms would be programs and schools to accommodate their needs and to fix the Sex Education that is being taught at schools. I couldn’t imagine having to deal pregnancy at my age and I hope that my solutions can make others lives simpler and more fulfilling.
Research and Data
In the research I have done about teenage pregnancy, I have come across many perspectives and a lot of data for this topic. In one of the sources, I found a clinic named the Mayo Clinic, which provided useful data and about how teens react and what they do when they find out they are pregnant. Some of the important topics they discuss are the three main options for what to do with the baby. One option is to keep the baby. Some teenagers choose the option of having the baby and raising it with support from other people like the father or other family members. Finishing school and getting a good job while raising a baby can be really challenging and is the hard part of this option. Another option is to give the baby up for adoption, which can be a good option because you let your child live and give it a chance to have a good life. This option can be challenging, though, because it requires research into different adoption agencies, and also may have difficult emotional consequences. The third option is abortion. This option is not always accepted by everyone and might even be illegal in certain states, and also has emotional risks. But it is an option the mother can consider, especially if she really doesn’t feel prepared to have a baby or if she became pregnant from rape or another bad situation. Tips that the clinic suggested were seeking help from parents and family, eating healthy, going to see a doctor, being physically active, avoiding dangerous substances, and possibly taking classes for moms. Common reactions could include anger, guilt, denial, anxiety, fear, shock and depression.6
In an article from the CDC it showed hard data and statistics for teenage pregnancy. According to the article, the rates of teen pregnancy have receded since before 1990’s. For numbers relating to education, “Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, whereas approximately 90% of women who do not give birth during adolescence graduate from high school.” (CDC). For numbers relating to taxes, $9.4 billion tax dollars were used to increase health care and foster care in the U.S related to teen pregnancy. This article also shows the rates of teen pregnancy for different races. In the year 2013-2014, the current rates for teen pregnancy for different races were 12% for American Indian/Alaska Natives, 11% for non-Hispanic blacks, 11% for Asian/Pacific Islanders, 9% for Hispanics, 7% for non-Hispanic whites.1
Another source, Guttmacher Institute, contains the current statistics on rates of teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion, and numbers of teenage pregnancies, births, abortions and miscarriages, all by state. Some of the main information pertaining to my larger community of California was, California was recorded the highest number of pregnancies among women aged 15–19 (98,530). In 2008 the abortion rate was rank 6 and birth rate was 30. In general, states with the largest numbers of teenagers also had the greatest numbers of teenage pregnancies in 2008.7
In an article about abstinence-only education, it argues that the poor quality and the focus of certain teaching styles for sex education in the US is causing the rates of unplanned teenage pregnancy to increase. The government supports the stress of abstinence in sex ed, however, with the data, it shows that when thought through a different, more open method the rates in that area decreased. Another system of sex education proposed “the integration of comprehensive sex and STD education into the biology curriculum in middle and high school science classes along with a social studies curriculum that addresses risk-aversion behaviors and planning for the future.” This article shows data to support the new system of sex ed and presents that with this new system it will lower the rates of unplanned teenage pregnancy.4
In a story on parents magazine, it looks into the perspective of a teenage mom. In this source, it reflects on the thoughts and life of a teenage girl, Jamie, who decided to keep her baby. The components in her life that help Jamie is the help of her mother and father and the job outside of school at a toy store that she gets benefits from. This doesn’t always happen, meaning not all teenagers have supporting parents or are able to afford having another child. This can explain reasons for other people choosing a different option for their baby. The other factors that Jamie struggles with is how out of place she feels with the rest of her age group as well as school and job situations.2
U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births And Abortions, 2008: State Trends By Age, Race And Ethnicity. 1st ed. Kathryn Kost and Stanley Henshaw, 2013. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
“About Teen Pregnancy.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Apr. 2016. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
This is a survey I conducted to see people’s attitude and knowledge about teenage pregnancy. The survey was taken by 8 students ages 14-18, girls and boys. Some people were from my school and somewhere from outside my school.
Some of the questions were taken from https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YSCWNQS
This is a friend of my family who had a child when she was young. These pictures were taken in the early 2000’s. These pictures convey the joys of being a teenage mom and connecting with her baby.
These poems describe some of the feelings pregnant teenagers might experience. Behind all the data, there is a lot of emotion that goes into this experience.
The video below shows teenage girls in the Dominican Republic who are dealing with unplanned pregnancy. Though this is not in my community it is important to look at other areas especially to understand intersectionality. In a developing country, people live very differently and it is important to see that they deal with different circumstances.
This video below explains the rate and information for teenage pregnancy around the U.S. It also talks about how we can prevent more teenage pregnancies from occurring.
This is the petition I created. It supports contraception and consent being taught in Sex Education. Click below if you would like to sign it.
My topic of teenage pregnancy correlates with gender studies as this situation mainly affects females and may have a big effect on the rest of their lives, but less so for the males. It also relates to intersectionality because people in different areas and communities can experience teenage pregnancies differently. Some options for the babies’ future may seem more favorable in certain places because of the norms and the living situation. Teenage pregnancy can prevent girls from completing their education, getting jobs and possibly pursuing their passions, thus causing it to affect girls more than guys and is why it is a gender related issue.
One strategy for catalyzing change would be to install schools and programs for teenage moms. This would help them get the education they deserve and still keep their lives on track. These programs will provide babysitting care and services on a schedule that allows mom to take classes. They would also provide classes on how to be a teenage mom, like getting jobs, managing time, and knowledge on raising a child. Hopefully, this will help teenage moms and their kids to have the best life possible. Although I believe in that strategy, it would be difficult for me to execute on it.
A strategy that would be more easily achieved by me and my peers would be to educate others on contraception and to petition for change on what is being taught for sex education. This would help teenagers understand how to more effectively prevent pregnancy.
1″About Teen Pregnancy.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Apr. 2016. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
2Immergut, Debra. “My Life as a Teenage Mom.” Parents. N.p., n.d. Web.
3PulitzerCenter. YouTube. YouTube, 03 Sept. 2015. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.
4Stanger-Hall, Kathrin F., and David W. Hall. “Abstinence-Only Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates: Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in the U.S.” PLOS ONE. Public Library of Science, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
5TheAtlantic. YouTube. YouTube, 09 Sept. 2016. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.
6“Tween and teen health.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.
7U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births And Abortions, 2008: State Trends By Age, Race And Ethnicity. 1st ed. Kathryn Kost and Stanley Henshaw, 2013. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.