Teen Pregnancy

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Teen Pregnancy

Although the rate of teenage pregnancy in the United States has declined greatly within the past few years, it is still an enormous problem that needs to be addressed. These rates are still higher in the 1990's than they were only a decade ago. The United State's teenage birthrate exceeds that of most other industrialized nations, even though American teenagers are no more sexually active than teenagers are in Canada or Europe.

Recent statistics concerning the teen birthrates are alarming. About 560,000 teenage girls give birth each year. Almost one-sixth of all births in the United States are to teenage women. Eight in ten of these births resulted from unintended pregnancies. By the age of eighteen, one out of four teenage girls will have become pregnant.

Although the onset of pregnancy may occur in any teenager, some teens are at higher risk for unplanned pregnancy than others. Teenagers who become sexually active at an earlier age are at a greater risk primarily because young teenagers are less likely to use birth control.

African-American and Hispanic teenagers are twice as likely to give birth as are white teenagers. Whites are more likely to have abortions. Teenagers who come from poor neighborhoods and attend segregated schools are at a high risk for pregnancy. Also, teenagers who are doing poorly in school and have few plans for the future are more likely to become parents than those who are doing well and have high educational and occupational expectations. Although the rate of teenage pregnancy is higher among low- income African-Americans and Hispanics, especially those in inner city ghettoes, the number of births to teenagers is highest among white, non-poor young women who live in small cities and towns.

In addition to the question of which teenagers become pregnant, interest is shown in the social consequences of early parenthood. Adolescent parents (mostly mothers) may find that they have a "lost or limited opportunity for education." The higher a woman's level of education, the more likely she is to postpone marriage and childbearing. Adolescents with little schooling are often twice as likely as those with more education to have a baby before their twentieth birthday. Some 58% of young women in the United States who receive less than a high school education give birth by the time they are twenty years old, com...

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...on, parents and communities are continuing to discourage sexual activity, marriage, and motherhood at a young age.These recent trends, if continued, will more than likely educate the adolescent population about the risks and consequences of teenage pregnancy and reduce the incicence of teen pregnancy and childbirth altogether.

Works Cited

Berk, Laura E. Child Development. 4th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1997.

Calhoun, C. et al. Sociology. New York: Glencoe-McGraw-Hill, 1995.

Donovan, Patricia. "Falling Teen Pregnancy, Birthrates: What's Behind the Declines?" The Guttmacher Report. 1.5 (Oct. 1998); 31-34.

Gormly, Anne V. Lifespan Human Development. 6th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1997.

Johnson, Sherry. Teen Pregnancy: Too Much, Too Soon. Waco, TX: Health Edco., 1995.

Newman, Philip R. and Barbara M. Newman. Childhood and Adolescence. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing Co., 1997.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Pregnancy and Childbearing Among U.S. Teens." Online. Internet. 29 Mar. 1999. Available

Tunick, Barbara. "Issues in Brief: Risks and Realities of Early Childbearing Worldwide." The Guttmacher Report. (Feb. 1997); 10-14.
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