Thesis: Sociology Teenage Pregnancy

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Sociology

Teenage Pregnancy

Teenage pregnancy is a common ever increasing important health issue among teenagers today. It has negative consequences for both the teenagers who become pregnant and for their children. Babies that are born to teenagers are more likely to have lower birth weights, increased infant mortality, and an increased risk of hospital admission in early childhood. They are less likely to have supportive home environments, they may suffer from poor cognitive development and, if female, they have a higher risk of becoming pregnant themselves as teenagers. Teenage mothers are more likely to be socially isolated, have mental health problems, and have fewer educational and employment opportunities (East, Reyes, and Horn, 2007).

Daughters of teenage mothers are significantly more likely than those girls born to mothers who delayed having children until adulthood to experience a teenage birth. "Socialization and social control theories of the intergenerational transmission of early childbearing contend that children born to teenage mothers are at risk of early pregnancy because of their mothers' marital instability and reduced parenting ability, as well as because of the poorer socioeconomic environment in which young mothers raise their children" (East, Reyes, and Horn, 2007). There seems to be significant association between a disadvantaged home environment, being a single parent and having a limited education and the age at which a young woman gives birth ( East, Reyes, and Horn, 2007).

A teenager's choice to become sexually active or not and to use contraception, are influenced by many factors. These factors can be seen operating on several different levels. The first is that of an individual level. This includes knowledge, attitudes and beliefs and what is right and what is wrong. The second is on a family level. This includes family structure, parent/child communication, and socioeconomic status. The third level is that of a societal and community level. This includes peer influences, sexual health education at school, and the norms and values concerning Teenage Pregnancy within the community. Some of these factors are easily changed, such as individual knowledge about sexual health, but others are not easily altered or cannot be changed at all (East, Reyes, and Horn, 2007).

Unfortunately being a teen parent can have many affects on a teenager. They are more likely to drop out of school, continue to have unwed pregnancies, change jobs more frequently, be on welfare, and have mental and physical health problems. Early sexual activity and having multiple partners are seen as associated with broken relationships, a sense of abandonment, confusion about romantic feelings, low self-esteem, depression, and an inability to form healthy long-term relationships (Molhatra, 2008).

Babies born to teenage mothers are at risk for many long-term problems in many areas of their lives. These include school failure, poverty, and physical or mental illness. The teenage mothers themselves are also at risk for these same problems. Teenage pregnancy is usually a crisis for the pregnant girl as well has her family. Common reactions that everyone can go through include anger, guilt, and denial. If the father is also a teenager his family is likely to have the same reactions (When Children Have Children, 2004). Pregnant teens can have many different emotional reactions when they find out they are expecting. These can include:

not wanting their babies viewing the pregnancy as an achievement and not realizing the seriousness of the whole thing keeping the child to please someone other than themselves

wanting a baby to have someone to love without recognizing the amount of care that a baby needs being depressed becoming overwhelmed by guilt, anxiety, and fears about what is going to happen to them and their baby (When Children Have Children, 2004).

Young girls who become pregnant may not seek the proper medical care during their pregnancy, which can lead to an increased risk for medical complications. "Pregnant teenagers require special understanding, medical care, and education -- particularly about nutrition, infections, substance abuse, and complications of pregnancy" (When Children Have Children, 2004). They also need to be told about how using tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, can damage a developing fetus. All pregnant teenagers should have medical care that begins early in their pregnancy in order to avoid as many complications as possible (When Children Have Children, 2004).

Babies born to teenage mothers are at risk for neglect and abuse due to the fact that their young mothers and fathers are uncertain about their roles and may be become frustrated by the never ending demands that the baby puts on them. Adult parents can help prevent teenage pregnancy by having open communication with their children and by providing guidance to their children about sexuality, contraception, and the risks and responsibilities of intimate relationships. Some teenage girls end up dropping out of school to have their babies and don't ever return. Because of this pregnant teens lose out on the opportunity to learn the skills that are necessary for employment in order to survive as adults. Schools should offer classes in family life and sexual education along with providing reproductive information and birth control to young people in order to help to prevent unwanted pregnancies (When Children Have Children, 2004).

If teenage pregnancy occurs, children and their families should have access to honest and sensitive counseling about the options that available to them. Special support systems, including access to a child and adolescent psychiatrist should be available to help the teenager throughout the pregnancy, the birth, and the decision about whether to keep the infant or give it up for adoption (When Children Have Children, 2004).

There are health risks for babies born to teenage mothers. They are more likely to suffer health, social, and emotional problems. Also girls who become pregnant during their teens have an increased risk for complications, such as premature labor and socioeconomic consequences as a result of their pregnancies. Some of these complications include:

Teenage mothers usually have lower annual incomes. Eighty percent of teen mothers rely on welfare at some point in their lives.

Teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of school than other teens. Only about a third of teen mothers graduate from high school.

Teenage mothers are more likely to suffer from alcohol and substance abuse (Swierzewski, 2007).

Not only does teenage pregnancy affect the teenagers but they affect society as a whole. In the United States, the annual cost of teen pregnancies is estimated to be about $7 billion. This comes from lost tax revenues, public assistance, child health care, foster care, and involvement with the criminal justice system (Swierzewski, 2007).

Although physicians often lobby for policy initiatives that are aimed at changing sexual risk behaviors among teenagers the most important thing that physicians can do is provide good sexual health information and services in their practices. Physicians must recognize the reality that teenagers are having sex. "Studies have shown that, by the end of high school, the majority of teenagers have had sexual intercourse, and that about 10% have had intercourse before age 15" (East, Reyes, and Horn, 2007). As part of a general health examination, physicians should ask all teenagers about their sexual activity, their use of contraception, their history of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Discussions about sexual health issues are hard for most teens to initiate therefore physicians must be proactive in asking such probing questions (East, Reyes, and Horn, 2007).

When teenagers find themselves pregnant they have the right to confidential health care, which includes receiving sexual health services that their parents do not have an automatic right to know about. The right to confidentiality is not always known or understood by teenagers and should be told to them by their health care providers. Finally, when teenagers choose to continue their pregnancy to term, good care should be provided before, during and after delivery, in order to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Sociology Teenage Pregnancy."  Essaytown.com.  April 8, 2009.  Accessed November 13, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/sociology-teenage-pregnancy/7949.