Although the rate of Teenage Pregnancy Essay 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 are to teenage women. Eight in ten of these births resulted from
unintended pregnancies. (Gormly 347) By the age of eighteen, one out of four teenage
girls will have become pregnant. (Newman 679)
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 birthcontrol. 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 educationsl 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, nonpoor young women who live in
small cities and towns. (Calhoun 309)
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.
” (Johnson 4) 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 bafore 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, compared with 13% of young women who complete at least twelve
years of schooling. (Tunick 11) Teens who become pregnant during high school are
more likely to drop out. (Calhoun 310) A teen mother leaves school because she cannot
manage the task of caring for a baby and studying, and a teen father usually chooses a job
over school so that he can pay bills and provide for his child. (Johnson 4) Teen mothers
usually have fewer resources than older mothers because they have had less time to gather
savings or build up their “productivity” through work experience, education, or training.
(Planned Parenthood 1) Because of this, teen mothers are generally poor and are
dependent on government support. (Newman 679) The welfare system is usually the
only support a teen parent will receive. Welfare benefits are higher for families with
absent fathers or dependent children. (Calhoun 309) In some cases, teen mothers may
also receive help like Medicaid, Food Stamps, and “Aid to Families with Dependent
Besides educational and financial problems, teenage mothers may face a great deal
of emotional strain and may become very stressed. Teen mothers may have limited social
contacts and friendships because they do not have time for anything other than their baby.
Lack of a social life and time for herself may cause the teenage mother to become
depressed or have severe mental anxiety.
(Johnson 5) Depression may become worse for
a teenage mother because she usually does not know much about child development or
about how to care for their children. Children who are born to teenage mothers usually
suffer from poor parenting. (Berk 188) Also, children of teenage parents start being
sexually active before their peers and they are more likely to become teenage parents
themselves. These children may also suffer from financial difficulties similar to that of .