Despite the decline in teen pregnancies, the problem is still an issue for many young women ages fifteen through seventeen that causes problems for these girls socially, emotionally and academically. The rates of birth for teens age fifteen declined from 17.9 per 1000 fifteen year olds in 1991 to 5.4 per 1000 in 2012; 36.9 to 16.9 for sixteen year olds and 60.6 to 23.7 for seventeen year olds (Cox, Pazol, Warner, Romero, Spitz, Gavin and Barfield 2014). The rates of teen pregnancy is higher for Hispanics, 25.5 per 1000 and African Americans, 21.9 than white teens, 8.4 and Asians and Pacific Islander, 4.1 (Cox et al. 2014). Geographic location also has an influence on the teenage pregnancy rates; 6.2 pregnancies per 1000 per 1000 girls in New Hampshire to 29 in Washington D.C. (Cox et al. 2014). Ninety one percent of female teenagers surveyed reported having a formal sexual education class (Cox et al. 2014). Unfortunately, the class was taken after having sexual intercourse for 83% of the respondents (Cox et al. 2014). Information is critical for these young women who unfortunately experience many negative consequences as a result of sexual intercourse resulting in pregnancy.
The consequences of a teenage pregnancy include social, emotional and academic problems for young women and is a direct result of a lack of information or misinformation. Teens who become pregnant are less likely to finish their high school education (Cox et al. 2014). Many teens who become pregnant and give birth are unable to secure employment because of the demands of raising a child puts on their time (Cox et al. 2014). Many states also restrict obtaining a driver’s license until a teen has completed high school (Cox et al. 2014). Emotional issues such as high stress levels and depression are reported by many of these teens when they find it is difficult to deal with pregnancy at such a young age (Cox et al. 2014). Teen mothers who were interviewed for a study when they reached their forties reported poor physical and mental health compared to their peers (Patel and Sen 2012). The negative effects of teen pregnancy present both short and long term mental and physical health problems (Patel and Sen 2012).
The cause of the problem as reported in both studies is a lack of truthful and comprehensive sex education at an earlier age. Many of the teens reported that their sexual education class was taught after they had already begun having sexual intercourse (Cox et al. 2014). Many of the teens also reported that the classes they were offered in high school did not comprehensively cover the various methods for birth control and that ineffective use of condoms and other over the counter methods for birth control were ineffective and resulted in their pregnancy (Cox et al. 2014). Most of the teens, 44% reported that they did not engage in meaningful conversation with their parents about sexual intercourse, methods of contraception and the consequences of sex and pregnancy (Cox et al. 2014). Only 51% of teens who became pregnant reported a visit to a medical professional for advice or the procurement of contraceptives (Cox et al. 2014). Teens and their parents need to open up communication about human sexuality, reproduction, contraception and the consequences of teen pregnancy at an earlier age than fifteen when many girls begin to become sexually active; not only is there the possibility for imminent pregnancy but the negative physical and emotional consequences for these young women are serious.
Cox, S., Pazol, K., Warner, L., Romero, L., Spitz, A., Gavin, L. and Barfield, W. (2014).
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Patel, P. and Sen, B. (2012). Teen motherhood and long term health consequences. Maternal
and Child Health, 16(5), 1063-1071. Retrieved from: http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds