Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Why is teenage pregnancy on the rise?

Much of the blame for the alarming increase in teenage pregnancies has been placed on the media and on society's general permissiveness over the past 30 years. Sexually explicit movies and songs extol promiscuity with no reference to its consequences.

The inability of teenagers (and some adults) to grasp the seriousness of having children is also to blame. Many teenagers who feel neglected or isolated see having a child as a quick way of getting attention from friends and family. Many teenage girls think that having a baby means having someone to love. They are unprepared for the long-term sacrifices involved in caring for their babies.

Teenagers who are doing poorly in school are especially at risk of getting pregnant and dropping out. Typically, these teenagers are from lower-income families; they have no goals for the future and feel that motherhood is their only option. Thus, having illegitimate children is no longer widely seen as a stigma. For many girls, having a baby has almost become an accepted rite of passage. Reports on teacher at an inner-city high school: "Back in the 1960's, babies were mistakes. Now, if you haven't had a kid by the age of 18, [they think] there's something wrong with you."

Because many teenage girls are not fully developed physically, they have higher percentages of high-risk pregnancies. Health professionals note that most teenage mothers receive little or no parental care and thus have more birth complications and babies with lower than normal birth weights.

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