OP-ED: Teenage Pregnancy – The Rise Teenage pregnancy has risen for the first time in nearly a decade. “It is a tragedy that after a decade of progress in reducing the rate of teenage pregnancy we are witnessing a substantial increase in the number of teens who are getting pregnant,” the Planned Parenthood statement read. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, every year around 750,000 teenagers will get pregnant and more than 2/3 of all teenagers who have a baby will not graduate from high school. Issues that continue to foster from this topic, deal with the popular MTV shows, “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” as well as ABC Family’s show, “The Secret Life of The American Teenager” as portraying a glorification to the teen mothers on the show. Being that these teen mothers have become celebrities, there’s no surprise that there would be speculation about whether or not these television shows are creating bad influences on teenage girls worldwide. The characters on these shows are paid to portray the lives of the teen moms in their households while raising their children at an early age. This image shines a dark light on the perks of pregnancy as a whole. On one side of the debate, the Guttmacher Institute says their research indicates the rise in teen pregnancy may be due to increased funding for abstinence-only programs in schools instead of promoting safety alternatives like condoms and birth control. On the other side, opponents argue the numbers are yet another reason to stop teens from having sex altogether. Furthermore, according to a study by Heather Boonstra, a member of the Guttmacher executive board suggests, still another reason could be an increase in domestic violence in teenage relationships. “One third of teens say they've been in an abusive relationship at some point, and a study in the current issue of the journal Contraception finds that women in these relationships are twice as likely to have an unintended pregnancy.” That's often
because their partners coerce them to become pregnant by, say, flushing their birth control pills down the toilet or refusing to wear a condom. Depending on what is viewed as morally correct and accepted by society, the ideal family consists of a married couple with multiple children. However, being exposed to different types of ideologies can contribute to the rise in teenage pregnancy, as well. Having several different perceptions on what is considered proper behavior will produce a confused state of mind for each individual. Being that everyone has their own opinion on teenage pregnancy; it is very easy for the exposition of these television shows to alter them. “Reality shows” tend to have that kind of effect on viewers. The big question is why do teen girls feel obligated to have sex when abstinence is an option? This question buzzes through the media in hope of finding an answer, as well. Moreover, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”, has been the main topic of conversation since July 1, 2008. There have been different ideas of whether or not this show gives teenage girls a positive display of how to take care of their child or if the show was supporting teenage pregnancy. The message that young female teenagers should get from this show is that although sex may be portrayed on television or in a personal household, that doesn’t mean that it should be followed. Everyone has their own judgment and free will. However, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” is prime example of how not to act when under pressure to have sex. Instead of being influenced by the show in a positive way, teens think it is cool to have sex and are not aware of the consequences. Teens tend to imitate the negative aspect because they think that it is harmless. The motive behind the show is completely missed. In addition to the controversy about the television shows as having a bad influence on society, the Guttmacher report suggested that the reasons for the increase in teenage pregnancy
may be more complex, including “shifts in racial and ethnic composition of the population, increased in poverty, the growth of abstinence-only sex education programs at the expense of comprehensive programs, and changes in public perception and attitudes toward both teenage and unintended pregnancy.” Racially speaking, among black teenagers the pregnancy rate was 126.3 per 1,000 women but the rate was 44 pregnant teens per 1,000 non-Hispanic white teenagers. Another question that can be considered is: “Can different views within races produce a problem too?” Also, the rise of teenage pregnancy may have something to do with lack of education as well. What most teens do not realize, however, is that being pregnant as a teen can be detrimental to your health. Being a teen, you are at a higher risk of going through premature labor, having anemia, high blood pressure, and having a baby with low birth weight. Even though these risks are prevalent, they can indeed be prevented. Eating right and gaining the right amount of weight is essential. Preeclampsia is a condition where quick weight gain, headaches, having less urine when using the bathroom, pain in your lower abdomen, occurs. It is said that teens are at a greater risk of having low birth weight babies. The baby can be born with underdeveloped lungs, vision, and other issues. Because some teens are unable to obtain the proper amount of education, that can cause them to be uneducated in this aspect unbeknownst by them. It is important to know the consequences of being a teen mother. In today’s society, the controversy of teenage pregnancy is seemingly on the rise. It is difficult to narrow the reasons down to one because of how prevalent teenage pregnancy has become. Parents must be willing to discuss the consequences of sex and what the possibilities are dealing with unprotected sex. Having a positive influence on a child’s life can alter the way a child views certain things.