Proper Education Should Be Able to Decrease the Rate of Teen Pregnancy in the US
Teen pregnancy rates have been drastically declining in recent years, but the number of teenage girls that continue to become pregnant annually are substantial enough to be looked at as a nationwide issue. Each year over 750,000 teen girls become pregnant[Hea14]. Many organizations, including the President, have made efforts to lower the number of teenage pregnancies. These last ditch efforts have helped tremendously, although not enough. Young women and men alike are struggling from this issue of becoming parents too soon, and even though the numbers have dropped, teenage pregnancy is still on the rise.
In the article, “Abstinence is the Best Policy” (2014), it states that, “In general, teens take more risks than younger and older individuals even as they lack the proper controls to manage them” (Watkins, Para. 7). This shows that the young, teenage brain cannot comprehend that the risks that they are taking, do in fact have consequences, big and small. Now, is it a matter of teens not caring, or is it in teenage nature to not realize that they are making such rash, foolish and uneducated decisions?
The number of teenage pregnancies is declining, but the number of pregnancies is still substantial, it is not an issue that can be pushed aside and forgotten about. The uprising problem and question of teenage pregnancy is that teens may not be able to deal with the risks of sex before marriage, which can result in an unwanted pregnancy. The possibility of becoming a pregnant teen, with an unwanted pregnancy is real. Watkins, (2014) mentions that, “An abstinence choice ensures that teens will avoid risky sexual behavior that they are not prepared to handle” (Para. 9). As small and as miniscule as that statement may be, it is extremely true. Something as simple as abstinence can prevent something as major as teenage pregnancy. Being a young, unwed, teen who could potentially be facing pregnancy may not realize how draining it is. That is a huge responsibility that a teenager is just not ready to take on.
In my personal experience, I became pregnant at seventeen years old, a high school senior. My boyfriend was eighteen years old and also a senior at the same high school. Naturally, we were beyond scared, we were mad at ourselves because we knew we had messed up. We were not raised that way, and we were well aware that our parents and loved ones would reprimand us greatly. We knew that bringing an innocent baby into this world wouldn’t bring our high school sweetheart relationship closer, we knew that we were going to have issues, and plenty of them. My pregnancy was difficult, filled with so many emotions. I was in pain physically, and mentally. It was not an easy thing to go through, in no way, shape, or form. I had an outstanding support system; parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and of course the father of my child.
My parents were of course disappointed in me, but stood by my side through every single thing. I gave birth to my daughter when I was eighteen, my boyfriend was nineteen, still young, still scared, but ready to take on the world as parents. We have our ups and we have our downs, but we are both extremely determined to beat the odds. We refuse to become just another statistic, we are parents, and we are doing the best we can for our daughter and for ourselves. Our child is surrounded with love, every second of every day, and that is all she will ever know. I refuse to let her suffer because she was the result of a teen pregnancy, she is a gift from God. We became parents way too early, and we are going to be the voice to others, so that they can live a full teenage life.
Cooper, (2013), has written an article stating why young and unmarried women and men should not become parents. Cooper believes that young and unmarried people should not become parents because they are not suitable. It is said in the article that, “The realization that you have messed up your life and have no one to blame for it, but yourself, will hit you, sooner or later” (Cooper 2013,Para.28). In some cases, that may be true, unfortunately so. It is true that there is no one to blame but the teenager for the pregnancy, but if he/she makes nothing out of his/her life after that, that person also can blame him/or herself for that. Life is what we make it, so make it good, and make it on one’s own terms. Yes, getting pregnant young is a road block, no doubt about that, but as the strong individuals we were all designed to be, we all must carry on, and stronger than before. I was six months pregnant with my daughter when I graduated high school, after I had her I took one year off of school to work, and also to dedicate my time to her.
Everyone kept telling me that I wouldn’t go back to school, but I knew I would, I had to, I couldn’t give myself, or my daughter any less. Here I am, a year later, and I’m happier than ever, I’m so proud of myself. I’m doing it for my daughter, and because I deserve to go somewhere in life. Cooper, (2013) says that, “There is no need for you to have a baby when you are not married and have no one to help you love, care for and support that child’s growth and development” (Para.29). I think that is definitely assuming a lot, many young and unwed people have tons of love and support, and so will that child. Family members and friends will always hold some disappointment, I’m sure, but that does not mean no one will be there to love and support the mother, father, that child. In my situation, I had a ton of support, my parents were and still are my backbone.
My boyfriend, my daughter’s father, is amazing, and does an incredible job supporting our daughter, and he also takes great care of me. In my opinion, it is ideal to be married before bringing a child into the world, I agree with that completely. That is what I wanted for my life, but I knowingly made a mistake. Taking care of child would be a lot easier if the parents were married before bringing a child into the world, that is a fact, but it does not mean that if a couple, or person is unwed that they do not have all of those things. Love and support is not something that is only there if a couple is are married, actually, it is something that everyone needs the most in hard times, no matter the given circumstance.
Preventing teenage pregnancy is incredibly important, no matter how much, or how quickly the rates are going down [CDC14]. According to the CDC, “Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school dropout rates among girls. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age. Versus approximately 90% of women who had not given birth during adolescence” (Para. 4). It is sad to see that so many young mothers do not finish high school or receive a high school diploma, or even some sort of schooling. It is to my knowledge that so many young girls do not have the resources or support to continue on their education, which is why it is so important to prevent pregnancy.
Everyone deserves an education, and they need to accomplish a degree fully. In this day and age it is almost essential to have an education to get somewhere later on in life. Teenage pregnancy is preventing that. Even though the teen pregnancy rates are going down here in the United States, “The U.S. teen pregnancy, birth, STD, and abortion rates are substantially higher than those of other western industrialized nations” (CDC 2014, Para. 3). No matter how it is looked at the rates are still in fact high, too many young girls and too many young men are becoming parents.
Also in the article Teen Pregnancy, The importance of Prevention[CDC14], it is pointed out that, ‘ While reasons for the decline are not clear, teens seem to be less sexually active, and more of those who are sexually active seem to be using birth control than in previous years” (Para. 2). It is important that the concept of using protection, or remaining abstinent, is clear to all young people. Pregnancy is easily preventable, and it needs to be something that is paid attention to, as it will have great impact on one’s life.
President Obama has recommended $112 million for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative[Hea14]. The President sees that this is a major issue, and is working to prevent this as well. It is noticed that the United States still has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the industrialized world[Hea14]. About 50% of teens do not use any type of birth control, and 31% of teens honestly do not think that they will become pregnant [Hea14]. As unfortunate as this is, “…nearly three in ten girls in the United States will become pregnant before the age of 20” (Para. 4).
Another staggering fact is that, “Almost 25% of teen mothers have two or more children” (Para. 10). In my personal opinion and experience, I cannot believe that so many teen mothers end up having a second or third child again, so early, also before marriage. I cannot imagine how scary that would be. Stability is needed in life, especially in a child’s, or they will grow up only knowing these terrible statistics. As a teen mother myself, I will not allow myself to become a part of these statistics.
There are many approaches people have when trying to prevent teenage pregnancy. In the book, MTV and Teen Pregnancy (Tally, 2013), a way of prevention that they have seen is, “One strategy that recently has been adopted to combat teen pregnancies is to use media to educate young people about the need to avoid risky behaviors that could result in unplanned pregnancies” (Tally 2013, Para. 4). In my personal opinion, I don’t think that putting this on the television is preventing anything. If anything, it’s promoting the lifestyle. It’s almost glamorous in a way. It is showing teenagers that even if they do become pregnant, it will be okay, no big deal. When that is far from the truth.
Being a teen parent is a struggle, no matter what. It was earlier stated that the decline in teen pregnancy was not clear, in this article is says that, “Some of the reasons cited for the decline include, the fact that fewer teens, especially male teens, are having sex than in 1990 (postponing sexual activity until later ages), as well as the act that there has been a dramatic improvement in the use of contraceptives” (Tally 2013, Para 1.). That is almost comforting in a way that contraceptives are in fact being used. Also that some are actually waiting to become sexually active, that is the only 100%, guaranteed way to prevent teen pregnancy.
In conclusion, even though the rate of teenage pregnancy is dropping, the number of girls who become pregnant every year are substantial enough to still be looked at as a nationwide issue. Teen pregnancy is 100% preventable, and it needs to be pressed into the minds of the youth. Sex is not a must, it is a personal decision. Sex is a big deal, and it comes with many consequences, like a child, for example. I am a teen mother myself, and I can say first hand that it is hard, and it is exhausting, and it can wait. The only promising prevention of an unwanted pregnancy is to remain abstinent. Young women and men should ask, is having sex young and unmarried worth the possible consequences?