My opinion on the increasing teenage pregnancy
Essay from Jeremiah Lucas Opira Memorial Contest 2023
Author: Rubanga Kene Isaac
Winner, Category 1
Teenage pregnancy is the condition when a teenage girl child, generally from 18-19 years old, becomes pregnant either intentionally or unintentionally. The teenage years are a crucial growth phase in the life of an individual fraught with physiological and psychological conflicts. In my opinion, finding a girl to be a pregnant teenager can come down shocking and even traumatizing for the individual as well as for her family. Teenage pregnancy is now an obstacle to the future of many girls. Teenage pregnancies have many causes, and it is often the result of the complex interplay of social, economic and individual factors. Here are some of the most common causes of teenage pregnancy:
Poverty is a significant barrier to education and healthcare access, which can increase the risk of unintentional pregnancies. Many young girls living in poverty also lack access to reproductive health education and services including contraceptives which increases their vulnerability to unintentional pregnancies, and they may engage in risky sexual behavior. In addition to poverty, I think cultural and social norms also can play a role in teenage pregnancies. In some communities, early marriage and childbearing may be seen as desirable or necessary, and young girls may face pressure to confirm these norms which results in teenage pregnancies.
Limited or lack of sexual education and reproductive health
Most young girls, as well as boys, have little or no knowledge about reproductive health as well as the use of contraceptives such as condoms. Some young girls may not have access to contraceptives and reproductive health and rights either because of logistical, financial, social or cultural barriers. Young girls who have little or no knowledge about sexual education and reproductive health and rights may not easily accept the body changes that they may have experienced, like menstruation, and they can also engage in risky sexual behavior which can make them pregnant.
Low education attainment for some homesteads
Young girls who lack access to education always become pregnant in their childhood because they may not have a clear set of goals that they can achieve in the future so they engage themselves in activities that give then short time pleasure such as drug abuse and having sex which can result in pregnancy in their childhood. Besides this, limited love and supervision from the parents of their young children can also lead to teenage pregnancies. In this current society, parents are always far from their children due to working hours or because the workplace is far away from home which leads them to have little to no time at all to attend to or monitor their children.
Sexual and drug abuse, peer pressure and media influence
Teens who have experienced sexual abuse always enage in risky sexual behaviors because the trauma of the abuse can lead to poor decision making and a difficulty in setting boundaries. In addition to this, teens who use drugs may be more likely to become pregnant. Drugs can impact judgments and make one loose control over one’s body and lead to them engaging in risky sexual behaviors that can lead to an increase of unintentional pregnancies. I also think teens may feel pressure to engage in sexual activities due to peer pressure. They may feel like they need to fit in or that everyone else is doing it. Additionally, media influence also contributes to an increase in teenage pregnancies. Laptops, phones, computers and other digital devices that have access to internet which have pornographic videos and photos and songs that advocate for sex. Once young people get access to this, they may develop an interest in experiencing what they saw and heard from the videos as well as from the songs. As a result of experimenting, teens are at a higher risk of becoming pregnant.
Teenage pregnancies can have negative social and economic effects on young girls, their family and the community at large. These effects are either psychological or physiological for the teenage girls and their children. The effects of a teenage pregnancy for me are few, but it causes a lot of torture to our young girls. Here are some of the negative effects of teenage pregnancy:
Teenage pregnancies lead to school dropouts since it forces pregnant girls to be committed full time to the pregnancy as well as to their baby after birth. This spoils the future of many young girls and paves a way into poverty for them as well as for their children. Moreover, poverty can lead to a sense of hopelessness. Teens may be jobless or sometimes get low paid jobs which makes it difficult for them to cater to both their own and their child’s needs such as medicines, food and education. And yet, most young girls are neglected by their husbands. Besides this, teens who are unmarried face stigma and rejection by their parents and peers. They can also get threats from society which can make it difficult for the teenage mothers to socialize with peers which can result in high blood pressure and mental disorders.
Giving birth as a teenager can result in negative health consequences
Children born by teenage mothers are always born with a low weight and with severe neonatal conditions. During teenage pregnancies they also risk the lives of their babies due to premature births. Sometimes, since the mothers are not yet motivated mentally to give birth or to go through the physical labor, which is painful, they are killing their unborn babies. Abortion is an act which is against the commitment to God who says: “Do not kill”. Furthermore, teenage pregnancies also put the life of young girls (teen mothers) at a higher risk. In most cases, teenage births often carry additional health risks to the mothers. Basically, they lack timely and suitable prenatal care hence passes a higher risk for pregnancy-related complications such as high blood pressure. Having unprotected sex can also lead to transmission of sexual diseases such as HIV, gonorrhea and syphilis among others. Furthermore, these diseases can be transmitted to the child from the mother during birth if the doctors cannot manage the birth well or effectively. Children of teen mothers are more likely to live in poverty because mothers alone cannot provide all the required needs since they both still are children. The children will also miss out of a father figure and love since most teen mothers face neglect from their husbands. In my opinion, teenage pregnancies are associated with negative consequences for teens for three main reasons: lack of education (due to school dropout), medical complications for both the mother and child and uncertainty regarding the future of teenage girls.
Teenage pregnancies are an issue that can be solved through a series of continual improvements which with each stride lower the rate of teenage pregnancies:
Implementing a proper education that young girls can participate in at night
Education makes young people set goals that they can achieve in the future and makes them concentrate on their studies instead of taking part in things that expose them to teenage pregnancy. Besides this, parents should talk to their children at an early age and often about sex and love. In addition to this, adolescents who are sexually active should use effective contraceptives such as condoms, birth control pills or the vaginal ring, every time they have sexual intercourse. This will reduce the risks of unwanted pregnancies. Although there are many ways to prevent a teenage pregnancy, the only sure way is sexual celibacy. Do not let your partner coerce you into doing something you may regret.
Making sexual education accessible.
This will make our girls aware of sexual and reproductive health and rights. It will also make young people use contraceptives that reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancies. We should also implement strict laws that punish rapists, defilers and people who still accept early marriage. It is important to provide support and education to prevent teenage pregnancies and to support teenage mothers to ensure a positive outcome for both the mothers and children.
In my opinion, I can thus conclude teenage pregnancy is a problem to the entire society. Moreover, since it is largely caused by factors in the community, it is the obligation of every member of that society including religious leaders, parents, teachers, governmental and non-governmental organizations. Nevertheless, with God’s grace it seems like Jeremiah Lucas Opira Foundation has started the fight against teenage pregnancy because when writing this essay, I believe most girls have realized the consequences of teenage pregnancies and they can help in the fight against it.