Teenage Pregnancy Research Paper

Pages: 7 (2395 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children

Teenage pregnancy is one of the most pressing issues facing the United States and indeed the world today. In the developed world, young mothers who are faced with unplanned parenthood are an increasing strain on the economy. Generally these young women leave high school before they obtain their diploma. The majority of them raise their children as single parents and rely heavily on the welfare system. It tends to be a life of hardship not only for the mothers involved but also for their children. The economic strain on households where the mother is very young as well as unable to rise above her economic circumstances also impacts upon the psychological health of both the mother and the baby. Teenage pregnancy therefore has particular and dire impacts upon the economy, the welfare system, and the mother's ability to provide a good home for her child; for this reason, many feel that the problem should be addressed from a preventative viewpoint.

Impact on the United States Economy

According to Popenoe (1998, p. 1), teenage pregnancy is not an unusual phenomenon in history or in non-developed social cultures. Girls who become sexually mature were considered as instruments to build the next generation, and were married as soon as they were ready to do so. The author notes that this is still the case in many parts of the developing world. The difference between cultures where this is the norm and those where it is not, is not only the level of development. It is also the social structure that allows for the viability, or not, of teenage pregnancies.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Research Paper on Teenage Pregnancy Is One of the Most Assignment

Popenoe (1998, p. 1) points out that, in more traditional cultures, teenagers who become pregnant are generally supported by the social structure. In addition to her husband, the girl is also surrounded by close family members in the form of her mother, aunts, grandmothers, friends, and a social structure that will help her raise the child. This is not the case in Westernized countries, where the economy and social structure has developed to have a generally isolating effect. This effect has also led to prejudice against those who are considered to be outside the norm, or who are considered to have a negative effect upon the well-being of the rest. This is generally based upon the expectation that women are expected to become economically active and secure before they have children. With equality in the workplace, women and men enter the workforce at about the same rate. Because teenage mothers will be unable to enter the workforce at a very high level, the impact upon their household economy will be great, while the cost to the nation is also significant.

According to Popenoe (1998, p. 1), the United States has a particularly high rate of teenage pregnancies when compared to other nations. Popenoe refers to it as an "urgent national problem." These mothers need support, and the economy and society of the United States is poorly equipped to provide this in a way that is anywhere near adequate.

The situation ten years after Popenoe's writing looks little better: Birth rates to teenage mothers in the United States in 2007 rose for the second year in a row, after nearly 15 years of continuous decline (March of Dimes, 2009). The United States till holds the position as the country with the highest rate of teenage pregnancies of most developed countries.

In addition to the concern for the mothers' and children's health and well-being, the United States economy also suffers from the need to take care of these young women and their babies.

The strain upon the U.S. economy presented by teenage mothers who are not economically viable is perhaps bets indicated by the effect of teenage parenthood upon the welfare system and its ability to provide them with adequate care, support, and representation.

Teenage Parenting and the Welfare System

A survey conducted by CLASP (2002) found that most states support the teen parent TANF rules, but at the same time the actual situation these young mothers face is that they are undercounted, untracked, oversanctioned, and underserved. In other words, while welfare programs are in place to address the needs of young mothers, few of them in fact meet these needs. At the heart of the problem with number discrepancies appears to be state data reporting systems and federal estimation methods. The survey suggests that there are many more households in which the mother was a teenager at the time of her first child's birth than is estimated in official state statistics. This impacts the ability of the state and welfare system to care for all those in need of care.

A further problem related to the discrepancy in counting is that those who are on the system remain untracked. State systems do not keep track of the effectiveness of their intervention programs for teenage mothers. There is very little monitoring regarding the ability of parents to meet the living arrangement requirements of the programs that are in place, or the school and training requirements. This makes it very difficult to monitor the effectiveness of existing programs or the necessity of implementing new ones.

In terms of being "oversanctioned," the CLASP survey suggests that teenage parents may be overly sanctioned in terms of the rules applied to their search for work and sustainability. Young families are generally not greatly supported in terms of their loss of immediate income or the instability it creates. Sanctions are imposed across the board without regard or concern for individual circumstances. This is exacerbated by the fact that these families are generally underserved. The survey suggests that each participating state has at least one service that is unmet in terms of school and living arrangement requirements. More than one lacking service was reported by 16 states. In addition to the mentioned services, other commonly unmet needs include substance abuse treatment, mental health services, child care services, and learning disability services.

Because of the psychological impact of early pregnancy, young mothers tend to become self-destructive and are in dire need of health and social services (March of Dimes, 2009). Many teenage girls who fall pregnant, for example, eat unhealthy foods, while also smoking, drinking, and taking drugs during their pregnancy.

The obligation of the welfare system to help care for mothers with these problems also puts a strain on the system and its ability to provide adequate support. Teenage mothers, in turn, become increasingly helpless and self-destructive as a result of this lack of support, and the cycle escalates. When the children in question grow up, they could also become a burden upon the economy and the welfare system, as they tend to be provided with little parental support during their lives. They learn to become dependent upon systems put in place to help those in need, rather than attempting to rise above their circumstances by becoming economically active and socially proactive.

Health Care

Pregnant teenagers can also have a dire effect on the health care system, since they are at greater risk of pregnancy complications such as premature labor, anemia, and high blood pressure. The younger the mother, the higher the risk of these complications. This means specialized care for young people who are often either uninsured or only partially insured under their parents' care. If these young girls have been alienated by their families, they are obliged to rely on the already burdened public health care system (March of Dimes, 2009).

Another health risk that affects both mothers and infants is the higher likelihood of sexually transmitted infections in teenagers who engage in unprotected sex. Conditions like Chlamydia, Syphilis, and HIV are conditions that affect more than 9 million young people between 15 to 24, including those who fall pregnant as a result of unprotected sex (March of Dimes, 2009).

Teenage Pregnancy and Education

Teenagers who fall pregnant are highly likely to leave high school before obtaining their diploma. According to Beck (2011), these teenagers form part of the 30% students between 15 and 19 in the country who will drop out of high school before finishing their studies. When this happens, it is highly unlikely that the student in question will ever return to complete his or her diploma. This is particularly the case with pregnant teenagers, who are weighed down by the responsibility of caring for their children.

Encouragingly, however, Beck also notes that the number of dropouts as a result of teen pregnancy has sharply declined, form 15% in the past to 4% on average currently, as a result of specific public school programs implemented to cater for pregnant teens. In addition, some states have implemented high schools that entirely focus on the needs of pregnant teens and teen mothers for the purpose of helping them complete their secondary studies without the judgment and alienation that would plague them in the mainstream high school setting.

Still, teen mothers remain more likely to drop out of high school than other girls of their peer group. Indeed, only 40%… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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