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Teen Pregnancy Essay

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Teen pregnancy is a major problem in the United States. There are significantly more teenage pregnancies in the United States than all other developing countries (Cleo & Moore, 1995). According to The Complete and Authoritative Guide: Caring for Your Teenager, out of every five women under twenty, two will become pregnant. Teen pregnancy rates have increased 23% from 1972 to 1990 (Napier, 1997) In order to come to a solution it is important to examine why teenage pregnancy is so high in the United States. When analyzing teen pregnancy, an effective way to get to the root of the problem is using the critical component of the sociological imagination. Critically, the two most prevalent ways to look at teen pregnancy are through a conservative or a liberal lens. Each side has their own answer to the question, what causes teen pregnancy, and how can we prevent it?

When the socioeconomic factor is examined the question we may ask is, "does welfare motivate kids to have kids?" According to conservatives, people with low incomes are lazy and unmotivated to work. Conservatives believe welfare does motivate teen pregnancy. You could look at the stereotypes of welfare mothers teaching their young daughters to get pregnant. The common misconception is that poor teens purposely have children so they can live off welfare all their lives.

Liberals have another way of answering if welfare causes teen pregnancy; they look at the data. Throughout history, welfare has not been a factor for teen pregnancy. According to Sugrue Thomas, teen motherhood declined in the 1960's and 70's, when welfare was more generous (American Families: A Multicultural Reader), and rose in a period when welfare benefits had significantly declined (Ralley). Gabr...


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... poverty and

teen pregnancy. Adolescence, 36(142), 289-304.

Greydanus, D., Bashe. The Complete and Authoritative Guide: Caring

For Your Teenager. Bantum Dell: New York, NY. 2003

Alan Guttmacher Institute. (18 March 2004). Eliminating program could

reverse strides made in reducing teen pregnancies. Woman's

Health Weekly.

Rodriquez, C., Moore, N. (1995). Perceptions of pregnant/parenting

teens: Reframing issues for an integrated approach to pregnancy

problems. Adolsecence, 30(119), 668-705.

Ralley, Gabriel. (1999). "No Good Choices: Teenage Childbearing,

Concentrated Poverty, and Welfare Reform." Pp. 258-272 in

Coontz's (ed.) American Familes: A Multicultural Reader.

Lewis, S., Lohr, M., Spencer, M., White, R. (1997). Repeat pregnancies

among adolescent mothers. Journal of Marriage and the Family,

59(3), 536-551.


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