Bronx, N.Y is reported to have relatively high pregnancy rates. The statistics show a decline in the rate per thousand. However, overall, it is still quite high with an average rate of 85.4 per thousand in 2012. New York City’s overall average is 60.6 in the same year (“Bronx County Teen Pregnancy” n.p). To increase the efficacy of anti-teenage pregnancy programs, last year, New York started an Ad campaign which presented and promoted teenage pregnancy as a shame (Taylor n.p). It lit up a debate whether teenage pregnancy should be seen as a shame or pride or neutral. One may agree or disagree with the campaign in many ways but the fundamental question is whether teen pregnancy should be a shame or pride.
Those who favor pride or neutrality question whether teenage pregnancy is a public health matter argue in favor of it being a private matter, and labeling it a shame would not bring down the pregnancy rates rather negatively affect pregnant teenagers’ mental health (Reeves n.p). However, the argument has some fundamental concerns related to teenage pregnancies social, economical and mental effects on the overall society as well. And this makes one think that it should be a shame, not a pride. Therefore, in this paper, it is argued and illustrated that teenage pregnancy in Bronx should be a shame because it is risky for mother, child, family and the society at large. Moreover, adding shame factor in a significant manner may make teens think twice before taking the risk of unprotected sex.
First of all, the idea that teenage pregnancy is a private matter is fallacious because it not only involves the life of a child, a second person, but also of a family and the society as well. It is true that teen pregnancy has health related risk for the mothers. Although, the research does says that teens are usually physically ready to become a mother, but the literature review by Phipps-Yonas also say that mentally and psychologically they are not (403). Thus, since teen pregnancy is most of the times unintended, the prenatal care is also usually late for various reasons. However, if these were the only risks attached to the teenage pregnancy, it could have been declared a private matter. But Teen pregnancy and issues related to it do not affect the mother alone. It has many medical, social and economic risks attached to not only the child but also the family as well as the society.
The risks related to the child include poor health, care, nurturing, education and mental stability. Since the teen mothers during pregnancy are often not much caring and psychologically ready for a child, they do not take care of the baby during the pregnancy. This may lead to premature birth or sometimes low birth weight (“Teenage Pregnancy” n.p). Thus, teen pregnancy, especially when unintended, is risky because such mothers mostly fail to give birth to a healthy baby. Similarly, since the mother lacks proper resources especially economic resources for nurturing her child, the end result is usually in economic suffering, bad health care and nurturing and less education. Paranjothy et al. in a research intended to find out who suffers the most from the teen pregnancy argue that teenage pregnancy brings increased risks to the health and well-being of the mother as well as the child, the primary reason for which is in the unavailability of the economic and social resources for upbringing a child at teenage (239). Similarly, the education of such children is also found to be on the lower side. Research results show that chances for such children to graduate even high school, forget about college, is less than half than other fellows (“About Teenage Pregnancy” n.p; Taylor n.p). Similarly, such children since are mostly raised by single mothers, because 90% of the teen parents do not get married, the delinquency rate in them is on higher side (Powell n.p).
Moving on, the deteriorating impacts of teenage pregnancy extend from one mother and child to a whole generation and even generations. The kind of health, nurturing, education and mental stability is transferred to a teen’s child because of poor care remains extant in next generations too. Research, by Johnson et al., found out that the side-effects that once take birth in the teen mother’s child because of poor health care and nurturing provided by the mother to the child do not go out of the system easily (145). Only continuous resistance and time may take those elements out in the survival of the fittest race of personality and psychological traits. And this process of eliminating such negative traits and problems can take as long as three generations (Johnson et al. 145). Therefore, it may harm the whole of current and much of the coming family or generations as well.
Furthermore, if the pernicious effects are analyzed together, the whole society may seem badly affected. It increases the risk of prevalence of bad health, low education standards and insecurity because of increased tendency for crimes. America takes pride in improved and high health standards in its community. However, Johnson et al. notice that there is a significant group that involves extremely low health standards. This is the group of teen mothers. These mothers fail to keep good health for themselves and also fail to provide an up to standard nurturing to their children. And since the effects may go up to three generations of the family, as noted before too, it adds significantly to lowering and worsening society’s health standards (145). Moreover, the low education standards that are found among such children may lower the standards of the society as well. Similarly since such children are mostly raised by single parents who do not produce better nurtured children. Hence, such children are more likely to have criminal tendency that raises threats for the overall security of the society (Taylor n.p). In short, teenage pregnancy is a serious public matter and when the prevalence of a public issue is negatively impacting the society, it does and ought to be a shame.
Public matters that are not productive for the society at large become a shame for the society. In many cases, it is noticed that a noxious behavior is not only seen as illegal but also a shame in a society. For example, Reeves give the example of drunk drivers. Should one sit in cabs of such drivers? The answer would most probably be negative because they might hit the car and badly injure the person. Thus, if a behavior can bring such harmful consequences, should the behavior and such a person be shamed and disgraced? The answer clearly seems positive (Reeves n.p). Then, why not teen pregnancy be a shame too. The difference between the two is that the outcomes of drunken driving are quite evident and clear while people know little about the poisonous effects of teen pregnancy. However, if the risks and likely costs are known, people would definitely see it as a shame.
Moreover even on a philosophical level, one can argue that adding the aspect of shame along with sex education and awareness may be a positive influence in preventing teen pregnancy and its negative outcomes. It could be noticed that in the last decade, in Bronx, the teenage pregnancy has dropped down because of increased awareness and education about condoms and contraceptives (“Bronx County Teen Pregnancy” n.p). However, it should also be noted that the rates are still quite high. Therefore, something more needs to be added to the awareness campaign to make the teen pregnancy rate reduction quicker. Adding the shame factor which has moral and ethical room too may make the things better and more effectively.
The basic idea behind putting some action or behavior behind the bars of shame is giving it an emotional touch. The awareness and education given to people only strikes their minds at intellectual level. However, the idea of shame touches them emotionally. Thus, it may create a double effect that even if the awareness and education fails to stop a teen from avoiding unprotected sex, the emotional factor of shame of being pregnant at teenage might make her think twice, with second thought being even stronger than the first one (Reeves n.p). Therefore, it is desirable to add the strict sense of shame with teen pregnancy for not only avoiding the pregnancy but also the undesirable consequences that it is most likely to bring with it.
However, many people may argue that shame and other moral judgments try to restrict the freedom of an individual. A person should be free to do even make mistakes as long as he or she is not harming any other person (Reeves n.p). Therefore, teen pregnancy should not be made a shame issue. The problem to the argument is quite evident in the argument itself. The argument assumes that teen pregnancy does not harm anybody else. However, it has been analyzed above in detail that teenage pregnancy is quite harmful, if not deadly. Therefore, it further supports the idea that teenage pregnancy be morally judged and seen as a shame to reduce it rather than countering it.
Therefore, it has been noticed that teenage pregnancy is not a private matter, it is a public matter. From health to education to security, it raises all types of concerns for a society. Especially in Bronx it effects are being witnessed quite clearly. The awareness has reduced the teen pregnancy quite significantly but more needs to be done. Thus, the moral judgment of seeing such an action as a shame might act as a double checker and make teens strong enough to control their desires when they cannot have a protected sex. Surely the consequences of teenage pregnancy are undesirable. Therefore, there is no reason why one should be proud of bringing such harm to oneself, a child, a family and a society at large. One cannot even stay neutral about the issue because neutrality means accepting the consequences and doing nothing about it. But something needs to be done about it. And it is that it ought to be seen as something very negative and destructive and unproductive for the society. However, there needs to be a limit in seeing teenage pregnancy as a shame because in cases, where a teenager actually desires to be a mother at teenage and does so intentionally, she should be a given respectable social environment to give produce and raise a child at her teenage.
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