In Fighting Teenage Pregnancy, the Folly of Shame and Blame

In Fighting Teenage Pregnancy, the Folly of Shame and Blame

The article analyses the dilemma of teenage pregnancy as is presented through the diverse approaches across the society. Teenage pregnancy rates in the United States are still high, and the issue remains of great concern to the government, community, teenage parents and educators, as well as other stakeholders. There has been a wide array of initiatives and approaches to the issue that have prompted equally divergent views. Changing the Odds, is a program providing teenagers, especially high school kids, with an opportunity where they can get involved in volunteer program aimed at minimizing the chances of teenage pregnancy.  The teenagers are at a higher risk considering their vulnerability to peer pressure and others living under poverty. In this program, the teenagers are provided with an opportunity to express themselves in the simplest and most open ways they can without any fear of shame or intimidation. The program offers a platform for them to interact in the healthiest ways; friendship under proper guidance and through trust-building.

Teenagers and teenage parents are faced with a whole set of social pressures and stigmas, and the situation is not helped if they hail from poor backgrounds. There have been several efforts representing the different perspectives on the issue with some being criticized as being judgmental. One such initiative is one by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg through his active involvement on a campaign against teenage pregnancy. Personally and through the health and education departments he is involved actively in the movement that aims to shame teenage parents and consequently scare teenage girls by warning them of the dire consequences that await them if they happen to get pregnant. As much as the issue of teenage pregnancies is still a big challenge facing the community, the use of shame-and –blame approach is not only unacceptable, but also ridiculous.

There are concerns from a section of teenage pregnancy activists that the African American and Hispanic communities where this problem is most prevalent have not been aggressive enough in dealing with it. However, this claim is refuted with the argument that churches with Black and Latino following usually bears messages of parents to take responsibility for their children and one another. Legislators have also been active in raking funds for programs focusing on breaking the cycle of the teenage pregnancy. Studies have shown that contraception plays a crucial role in the reduction of teenage pregnancy. Teenage pregnancies have been linked to a failure on the part of the parents to provide the required guidance and to be there for the kids who need a lot of love in their stage, in life. There is a form of isolation between the teenagers and the parents who are busy elsewhere and in their workplaces leaving the teenagers alienated and lonely. The teenagers are in pursuit of love and someone who can care and show. It is hard to simply convince these lonely teenagers that the relationships they have are unhealthy without offering a better alternative. What the teenagers need are love and caring relationships at home.

According to statistics, the teenage pregnancy rates in the U.S compared with other developed countries are shockingly high. For instance, the pregnancy rate among adolescents is eight times in the U.S. higher than that of Netherlands. However, there has recently been a positive trend in the pregnancy rates with a record decrease by 8 percent from 2007 to 2009. Studies have also established that Latina adolescents have higher chances of becoming pregnant than black and white girls. Black and Latina adolescent girls with a child are more likely to bear a second one than white adolescent girls. The daughters of adolescent mothers are at a higher risk of becoming teenage mothers, thus perpetuating a persistent intergenerational cycle. In addition, teenage pregnancy creates risks for both the baby and the mothers. Teenage mothers usually drop out of school and are likely to face economic problems while their infants are likely to have lower birth weight, a prominent determining factor in infant mortality, child illness, and neurological problems.

There is more than common ground that the high rate for teenage pregnancy in America is an issue of great concern. Notably, other factors have equally detrimental effects for adolescent mothers and their offspring. Poverty, low-SES backgrounds, and low achievement in school and life are contributing factors to teenage pregnancies. However, not all adolescent mothers live a life of low achievement and poverty. There is a need for comprehensive efforts to help pregnant teenagers and young mothers in enhancing their occupational and educational opportunities. They also need help in securing reliable child care and in planning for their future.  All concerned groups need to adopt the more effective and healthier approaches to the sensitive issue, ones than at will create a more positive rather than negative impact to the target group, and bring an end to the alarming trends.

Teenage pregnancy in the U.S. is an issue that requires urgent measures that are more realistic and sustainable. In order to address the issue, identifying the root causes of the problem is crucial. There is a lack of connectedness between teens and their parents leaving them at the mercies of friends and peers, a situation that compromises their wellbeing in several ways.

One in Four U.S. Teenage Girls Have STD’s, Study Finds

The article is a dissection of a national wide survey of four conventional sexually transmitted diseases in young women and girls in the United States. Nearly half of the Black teenagers of ages 14 to 19, according to the study, were infected with one of the diseases assessed in the study; Chlamydia, trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus (HPV), and genital herpes compared with the 20 percent of white teenagers. This translates to a total of 3.2 million adolescent girls infected posing them to the serious risks of untreated STDs. Each of these diseases is known to be dangerous in its own way. For instance, HPV poses the risks of genital warts and cancer.  Shockingly, 15 percent of the infected teenagers had more than one of the diseases. These findings emphasized the need to strengthen vaccination and screening, issues that form public health priorities. Moreover, overall infections of STDs are high across U.S standing at around 19 million new transmissions each year.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are primarily contracted through sex with the most prevalence being gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis, AIDS, genital warts, and genital herpes. HIV/AIDS has been reported as the one disease with the greatest impact on sexual behavior causing widespread public fear. The diseases trigger weakening of the immune system to extremely lower levels leaving patients vulnerable to even the lightest ailments. In 2010, over 1 million people were living with HIV infection in the U.S. with most frequent transmissions being through the male-male sexual contacts. Through education and development of drugs that are more effective, deaths as a result of HIV/AIDS have since declined. Globally, the number of people infected with HIV stood at 34 million in 2010 with about half of these new infections around the world being in the 15 to 24 year old category.

The high STD infection rates especially among the African American women acts to demonstrate the urgency of the need to heighten efforts to reaching those most at risk. One such approach is the use of real comprehensive sex education. The earlier programs that focused on abstinence only campaigns seemed to have hit a dead end with more and more girls continuing to suffer the risks. The study involved 838 participants randomly chosen through the standard statistical techniques.  Recommendations and treatment were available to the participants. The recommendation was treatment for both sex partners of the individuals diagnosed with curable STDs. The approach to reach all the partners was to prescribe or provide the same treatment for partners of treated girls. This was aimed at encouraging the men who may not a physician or symptoms to be treated. Through the study condoms were also noted to be less effective against genital herpes and syphilis.

STIs are prevalent among the teenagers in the U.S. as demonstrated by studies. The infection rates are higher in African Americans as compared with the white teenagers. The major challenge with the STIs is the fact that most of these teenagers or adults infected with the diseases may not be aware of it, and this puts them under serious health risks posed by untreated STIs such as cancer. Furthermore, some of these STIs like HIV/AIDs have no cure and may be a cause for other health challenges. Treatment of teenagers ought to target to both partners to avoid more spread and re-infection after treatment. There is a need to strengthen vaccination and screening efforts to counter the high rates of spread of the diseases among the adolescents. In addition, sex education will go a long way in addressing the problem. Sex education programs aimed at teenagers may be effective in creating awareness in the use of condoms and other preventive measures. Globally, the HIV prevalence is still high although recent trends show a decline.  The most affected group by the HIV pandemic worldwide is the youths, an issue that calls for more efforts in minimizing the spread of the disease and save the threatened generation.

One in every four adolescent girls in the study was infected with one of the four STDs; Chlamydia, trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus, and genital herpes. This implies more than 3 million girls living with these infections and more new cases being recorded each day. As such, so many young girls are at risk with the greater percentage unaware of the looming danger within themselves. Although previous efforts have been reported to have achieved a great deal of success, more still needs to be done in curbing the menace. Any approaches that focus on the groups that are most at risk would be more effective, for instance, the African American girls whose rate of infection is higher than in other groups.

Study Finds Mothers Unaware Of Children’s Sexual Activity

A study done by researchers at the Adolescent Health Centre at the University of Minnesota revolved that half of the mothers of sexually active adolescents believe that the children are still virgins. These findings are shocking and reveal the level of ignorance or deniability among parents of teenagers. Although the study did not include the reasons for the parents not knowing about their children’s sexual activities, it is evident just how distant the parents are from their children’s private lives. The findings also showed that mother’s frequency of prayer and religious observance did not correlate with her children becoming sexual active. The proportion of the data on fathers was so small to be generalized in this study.

The study drew from two previous studies from the National Longitudinal Study of the Adolescent Health with a nationally representative sample of Grades 7 to 12 students. One of the studies involved 2006 teenagers between the ages 14 and 15 who at the beginning of the year reported being virgins. Their behaviors were monitored for clues to factors affecting teenagers’ sex choices. The other study involved 3,322 adolescents in Grades 8 to 11 also virgins at the outset of the study. According to the study, close relationships with mothers had close correlations with delayed sexual activity although the effect was seen to diminish with age. However, for girls the effect was found to diminish with age. High levels of connectedness between mothers and teenagers were not significantly related to delay in sexual activity among the 10th and 11th grade girls as the second study established. Girls in the late teens have a strong need to claim independence, in part, this happens by defying their mothers.

Surveys have also found that, by the age of 20, about 77 percent of youths in the U.S. have engaged in sexual intercourse. This trend is divergent from previous trends between 1991 and 2011, where fewer teenagers reported ever having had sexual intercourse. The current trend reveals that teenagers are increasingly becoming sexually active younger and have sexual intercourse with more than four partners during their lifetime. Many teenagers are not emotionally prepared to handle sexual experiences. The early teenage sexual activity is closely linked with other risky behaviors such as delinquency, drug use, poor parent-child communication, alcohol use, school related behaviors, and early menarche.

As much as pregnancy among adolescents has decreased substantially in United States in the last decade, the U.S. continues to lead in teenage pregnancy rates across the industrialized world. Further, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that over 10,000 teenagers in America contract a venereal disease each day. By and large, the government has been committed to promoting abstinence through financing of campaigns that advice the use of contraception to prevent the risk of pregnancy and the use of condoms to minimize the risk of venereal infections. The government has been actively involved in promoting of training programs intended to help teenage parents overcome the awkwardness in discussing the issue of sex with their children.

Most campaigners against teen pregnancy recognize the need for parents to be in a position to talk freely with their children about sex. What is required is a relationship in which the teens feel they can easily approach the parents and the parents on their side keep close tabs on them. It is important that parents know the friends of their children and what they do when they are together. Peer pressure is another major contributing factor to early sexual activity among adolescents.

The active role of parents of adolescent youths has been underscored in many reports and studies. There is a worrying trend among most parents of adolescent boys and girls to get less and less involved with their children leaving that responsibility solely to their educators and peers. The gap created henceforth is the driving force to increased cases of early sexual activity. Young people are having sexual intercourse at even earlier ages of 11 and 12, the result of which is early pregnancies and contracting of STIs.

America currently leads in teenage pregnancies, and the number of teenagers contracting venereal diseases every day is alarming. According to the reports, teenagers feel alienated and isolated at home and seek to find love and companionship elsewhere. As a result, they bulge to the peer pressure and end up in drug abuse and other vices. There have been numerous programs by organizations and government agencies to address the problem of adolescent pregnancy and STDs. However, what is required to address the problem effectively is a more comprehensive and extensive approach involving the parents and the teenagers.