Did you ever have a doll when you were younger, that you would play with and pretend was your own, real baby? Did your sister ever make you play dolly house with her, starring as the mommy, taking care of all sorts of children? Life examples like these are proof that at a small age, we intend to become nurturers. But who wants to wake up every day with the pressure of going to school, going to work, and taking care of children?
Though many of you sitting here are already parents and face similar responsibilities, according to “The Child Trends Data Bank,” more than 55% of teenagers don’t even have jobs. Never as teenagers, do we sit and daydream about being pregnant or becoming parents in high school. All we want to dream about is moving far away from our families, living on our own, and making a lot of money doing it. But does reality ever match the dream? Are teens ever faced with the fact that their “perfect plan” might take a small detour? Tonight we’ll all come to the realization that teen pregnancy happens, is real, and is growing every day. First we’ll look at what some of the possible factors that lead to teen pregnancy are, then we’ll compare the statistics of the teen pregnancy in not only Utah but the United States, and finally, we’ll discuss the risks of becoming a parent as a teenager.
There are two possible factors of teen pregnancy I wish to discuss with you, The first is the lack of education of contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases. According to Divya Mohan, spokeswoman for the National Assembly on School-based Health Care, there are about 1,708 school-based health centers nationwide, and only about 1/3–almost all of them high schools–provide contraceptives. Utah is one of 3 states that still require parents to sign off their children receiving any sexual education in schools. Brenda Hales, associate superintendent with the Utah State Office of Education claims that “parents should be the primary source of human sexuality instruction and values related to the subject.”
However, some lawmakers are complaining that parents are not talking about sex with their children, with the rate of STD’s and teen pregnancies on the rise in Utah. Planned Parenthood, a nationwide health center for pregnant teens, has been accused multiple times of infiltrating Utah schools to push their agendas. The second possible factor of teen pregnancy is unwanted sex. According to teenhelp.com, nearly four in ten girls whose first intercourse experience happened at age 13 or 14, report that the sex was unwanted and involuntary.
Feministe.com states that an estimated 20% of teen girls become pregnant as the direct result of rape. The Harvard School of Public Healt’s exhaustive research on the lives of girls, demonstrates that girls who are victims of violence from dating partners, are four to six times more likely to become pregnant, and eight to nine times more likely to commit suicide than non-abused girls. “Teen pregnancy isn’t simply about girls and boys being promiscuous or lacking access to sex education and contraception. Too often teen pregnancy is about girls losing agency over their bodies because of the unbearable injuries of being sexually violated.”
We’ve discussed some of the possible reasons leading to teen pregnancy, but I’m sure most of you have been waiting to hear some actual statistics. Teenhelp.com has basically averaged out the statistics of teen pregnancy from multiple webpages, and claims that about 820,000 teens get pregnant each year in the US. That means that 34% of teenagers have at least one child before they turn 20. 79% of teenagers who become pregnant, aren’t married. Close to 25% of teen mothers become pregnant with their 2nd child within 2yrs of their first birth. Social, educational and financial costs of teen pregnancy: The US spends approximately $7 billion each year, trying to help both birth and raise children of teenaged parents.
Nationwide, only about 1/3 of teen moms actually complete high school and receive diplomas. By age 30, only about 1.5% of women who had pregnancies as a teenager have a college degree. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy created a study to find out what teens think of sexual activity: 82% of teens feel that they should not be sexually active. 72% agreed that teens who are sexually active should have access to birth control. 73% believe that being a virgin shouldn’t be embarrassing. 58% believe that high school students should not be sexually active. Fewer than half of teens in high school have had sex. 67% wish that they had waited.
You’ve heard the probable causes of teen pregnancy. You’ve heard some statistics. But you haven’t heard the risks of adolescent pregnancy. The risks are great, pregnancy has never been a walk in the park for any one, teenagers especially. Pregnant teens and their unborn babies have a list of unique medical risks, one of the most crucial being the lack of prenatal care. Teenage girls who get pregnant–especially those who don’t have support from their parents–are at risk of getting inadequate prenatal care. Birth defects are a common result of neglecting prenatal care. Another risk of teen pregnancy is high blood pressure, also known as “pregnancy-induced hypertension.” Because of the immaturity of the teenaged development, they are more at risk than women in their 20’s and 30’s. Other risks to brush over lightly that are to be taken seriously are premature births, low-birth-weight baby, STD’s, postpartum depression, and feeling alone and isolated.
Tonight I hope you understand that teen pregnancy is considered a huge epidemic in our society. Becoming a parent at such a young age is becoming more and more common in this day and age. Thank you for listening.