According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, fewer teenagers are getting pregnant and having babies before the age of 19. In fact, in 2013 a little over 273,000 babies were born to mothers under 19 years of age. While this number may still seem high, it is actually 10 percent lower than the teenage pregnancy statistics gathered in 2012. With fewer teens having babies, it would appear that the social media and public awareness campaigns are working. The availability of birth control and health services for teens also contributes to this lowered number. Nonetheless, teen pregnancy is still expected to be an issue that must be addressed assertively by parents, doctors, educators, and other advocates. Teenagers today still require knowledge about the risks of teenage pregnancy so that they can make other choices for themselves and their futures.
The risks of teenagers getting pregnant are plenty and center on restricting their financial and physical wellness in their most vulnerable years. Teenage girls’ bodies are still developing, although most reach sexual maturity during this formative time in their lives. Still, their bodies are still growing and are in less than ideal condition for supporting a pregnancy. While many teens have normal pregnancies, the risk for premature delivery and prenatal death always exists because teens lack the physical development needed to sustain a low-risk pregnancy. Many obstetricians classify teen pregnancies as high-risk by nature, in fact.
Many teenage expectant mothers are either unemployed or underemployed, putting them and their babies at risk of poverty. Despite the number of social services available for teen mothers like food stamps, WIC, and Medicaid, many find it difficult to overcome the challenges of poverty and maintain low-income households for years. Moreover, teen pregnancy also takes away teen moms’ opportunities to go to college and live a normal young adult existence making friends, expanding their interests and talents, and starting careers without the burden of children. Because a solid foundation is necessary for people to enjoy successful lives later parents, teachers, and health officials continue to advocate against teenage pregnancy by offering solutions for avoiding becoming pregnant and focusing on a brighter future instead.
Offering better solutions can be difficult when teenagers are determined to get pregnant on purpose. Their youth and naivete prompt may young teens into believing that becoming pregnant and having a baby at such a young age will give them the lifestyle they want right now. They believe that they will have someone to love them, someone to care for, and a way to guarantee their independence beyond their parents’ grasp. In reality, these teens’ lack of experience in life fail to prepare them for how difficult their lives will actually become after they have kids of their own and how little their parents can actually help them in some cases. With teenagers getting pregnant, they set themselves up for a life of challenges that can be difficult to overcome for years, if ever.
In particular, teens who grow up in broken households are at risk for teen pregnancy. In fact, the CDC reports that about a third of all teen moms come from households headed by a single or divorced parent. The lack of parental stability in their own homes compels many teens to create a stable family life that they have always craved for themselves. They believe that having a baby will give them the control and the affection that they have lacked in their own homes with their own parents.
Some teens also feel that getting pregnant on purpose will guarantee the stability and permanence of their romantic relationships. In truth, many teen fathers abandon their partners because they are not mentally or emotionally mature enough to take on the responsibility of being a father. They become scared at the thought of having to give up their freedom and having to work to support their children for the next 18 years. Alternatively, some teen fathers become controlling and abusive of their girlfriends, believing that a baby will give them the hold they need to keep their girlfriends in the relationship. These circumstances can lead to years of physical, mental, and emotional abuse and neglect that will adversely affect the teen parents and their offspring.
On average, around 200,000 to 270,000 teenagers get pregnant each year. This number has decreased steadily since 2012. The CDC reports that campaigns that have been launched online and in the public arena have contributed to this lowered number. As more teens have firsthand evidence of the hardships of teenage parenthood, they are less inclined to want to become pregnant. Social media campaigns on Twitter and Facebook show teens what it is truly like to have a child at such a young age. TV shows on MTV and other networks give young viewers a real-life view at how difficult it can be to raise a baby without the money and family support one needs to build a successful family.
Another reason that fewer teens are becoming pregnant involves the availability of birth control. Most public schools now teach teenagers about what kinds of birth control are available and how these methods can be used. In fact, some public school nurses’ offices give away free condoms to high school students. While many parents are less than enthusiastic about this practice, health officials remark that this practice has helped lower the number of teenage pregnancies, as well as stemmed the transmission of STDS among teens.
While public health officials, teachers, and parents applaud the reduction of teenage pregnancies, they also are realistic about the need for continued education. They know that if they let up their efforts to combat this issue that the number of teenage pregnancies could rebound and increase. These individuals remain the best advocates for teenagers today. Their focus on and attention to keeping teenagers educated about how to avoid becoming pregnant at such a young age will help keep teen pregnancy statistics low.