Teenage pregnancy is defined as an unintended pregnancy during adolescence. Approximately 750,000 of 15- to 19-year-olds become pregnant each year, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, though many teenagers do not believe that they will get pregnant if they engage in sexual activity.
During adolescence, teenagers often feel pressure to make friends and fit in with their peers. Many times these teens let their friends influence their decision to have sex even when they do not fully understand the consequences associated with the act. Teenagers have sex as a way to appear cool and sophisticated, but in some cases the end result is an unplanned teen pregnancy. The Kaiser Family Foundation states that more than 29 percent of pregnant teens reported that they felt pressured to have sex, and 33 percent of pregnant teens stated that they felt that they were not ready for a sexual relationship, but proceeded anyway because they feared ridicule or rejection.
Teen girls are more likely to get pregnant if the have limited or no guidance from their parents. Many parents have busy lives that prevent them from providing the guidance and support that their young teenagers need to make good decisions on issues such as sex, according to the website Parent Dish. When a teen does not feel that she can talk to her parents about sex either because they forbid sex talk or because they are not around, she will more than likely turn to friends for direction on whether or not to have sex, resulting in misinformation and possible teen pregnancy.
Glamorization of Pregnancy
The movie industry and the media contribute to teenage pregnancy by glamorizing teen pregnancy in news stories and movies. Movies that depict teen pregnancy as something to be desired encourage teens to engage in reckless sexual activity, according to ABC's "Good Morning America." During adolescence, teens become more focused on their appearance and how their peers perceive them. They want to be seen as part of the group, so if teen pregnancy is viewed as acceptable in their school or amongst their friends, they may seek to become pregnant as a way to gain social acceptance.
Lack of Knowledge
Teenagers who are uneducated about sex are more likely to have an unintended pregnancy. Some teens do not fully understand the biological and emotional aspects associated with having sex, according to DailyRecord.co.uk. These teens may get incorrect information from friends, videos, sitcoms and/or movies. Many times, teens do not have the knowledge needed to make informed and responsible decisions about whether or not to engage in sexual activity that can alter their life.
Sexual Abuse or Rape
Teens can become pregnant as a result of sexual abuse or rape. The Guttmacher Institute states that between 43 and 62 percent of teens acknowledge that they were impregnated by an adult male, and two-thirds report that their babies' fathers are as old as 27. Approximately 5 percent of all teen births are the result of a rape.
Teen drinking can cause an unexpected pregnancy, according to the website Love to Know. Many teens experiment with drugs and alcohol. Drinking lowers a teen’s ability to control her impulses, contributing to 75 percent of pregnancies that occur between the ages 14 and 21. Approximately 91 percent of pregnant teens reported that although they were drinking at the time, they did not originally plan to have sex when they conceived.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Parent Dish: Abstinence Education to Blame for Rise in Teenage Pregnancy
- ABC Good Morning America: Gloucester Student Denies Girls Formed 'Pact' to Get Pregnant
- The Daily Record: Lack of Education to Blame for Soaring Teen Pregnancy Rate
- Guttmacher Institute: Adolescent Pregnancy and Sexual Risk-Taking among Sexually Abused Girls
- March of Dimes: Teenage Pregnancy