Teen pregnancy rates in the United States have declined steadily in recent years. More than 60 of every 1000 teenage women gave birth in 1991 and 41 per 1000 in 2004 (the last year for which data are available).This decline is thought to be attributed to more effective birth control practice and decreased sexual activity among teens. The most dramatic reduction23%has occurred among African American teenagers.
Adolescence can be a challenging time for young people and their families. A teenager goes through rapid physical and emotional changes. Teenagers go through awkward times and get caught in between wanting freedom and having the security of the family. Parents want their children to grow to happy and independent. But at the same time, they cannot help but fear for the safety of their children as they watch them spread out their own wings. Given this situation, parents have accept the fact that the dreams they had for their children may not come true. For teenagers to have their own dreams, they must cope with the controlling behavior of parents while trying to explore the world on their own.
Aside from the initial forays into drinking and smoking, many teenagers also explore the adult world by getting into a romantic relationship. Having an intimate and romantic relationship among young people is very common even if it is prohibited by their parents. Naturally, teenagers rebel and some even engage in pre-marital sex not thinking of the consequences of such actions. This is especially true among teen-age girls. Unfortunately, these girls will also be the ones who will have to face the problem of early pregnancy, a dilemma that would have long-term consequences.
Teen pregnancy is one of the most difficult experiences a young person could ever face. It can interrupt school or other plans in their young lives. It can create an emotional crisis resulting in feelings of depression, shame, and fear. The stress of how a teenager breaks the news to her parents might be even greater, and finding help may seem an impossible task.
Some pregnant teenagers are so shocked and frightened that they try to cope by ignoring or denying the pregnancy. A pregnant teener might even think no one can help her, she might be too embarrassed to search for help. However, denying the pregnancy or ignoring it can only make things worse for the teen ager and the baby. Denial will not take the pregnancy away, instead, the teenager will lose the time she could have invested in prenatal care and counseling.
Research shows that sex education and access to effective contraception are essential in preventing unplanned pregnancy in the teenage population. Some teenage pregnancies occur as a result of young women’s sexual inexperience and an inadequate understanding of their reproductive cycle. Research suggests that knowledge about reproductive matters and access to contraception are necessary to prevent unintended adolescent pregnancy.
Teenagers, as a group, have significantly higher complication rates both during pregnancy and delivery. Reasons for the higher complication rate include physical immaturity, lack of health care knowledge, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, illegal drugs, poor diet, inadequate antenatal care. Teenage mothers have a higher risk of postnatal depression than older women.
Moreover, research have shown that the number of births to teenagers has decreased considerably over the last few decades. This decrease is most likely due to the increased availability of contraception and abortion, rather than a decrease in sexual activity. There has also been a dramatic fall in the number of teenagers choosing adoption. Changes in social attitudes towards single parents and illegitimacy and the availability of social support groups have made parenting a more viable option.
Pregnancy counseling is generally available in school, church or the community. Ideally, counseling should support the young woman in making a free and fully informed decision about her options, and give information on abortion, adoption and parenting. Many teenagers feel uncomfortable or unable to talk with family, so professional counseling offers a valuable and much-needed resource.
Teenagers now have a lot of options and making a choice can be a bit difficult. But carefully checking one’s resources and giving oneself the opportunity to make the best informed decision should be available to each and every teenager.