1.1 Background to the Study
The terms ‘youth’, ‘teenager’, ‘adolescent’, and ‘young people’ are all used to describe people in the phase of life that marks the conversion from childhood to adulthood. While there is universal agreement on the transition from childhood to adolescence, when exactly adolescence ends and adulthood begins is less clear as the stage of adolescence is culture-specific and therefore different in every society. In some cultures, the transition from teenager to adult could be very short, while, in other cultures it could be longer (Govindasamy et al., 2002).The World Health Organization (WHO, 2009) defines ‘adolescents’ as people aged 10-19; ‘youth’ as those aged between 15-24; and ‘young people’ as those aged between 10 and 24 years old and ‘teenager’ as people aged 13-19 years. Traore (2010) agrees that age has been used to differentiate adolescents from teenagers based on their physical development. This study, however, prefer to take females in the age group between 13 to 19 years as ‘teenagers’. In this study, the term ‘teenagers’ was used throughout. The incidence of teenage pregnancy remains high around the world. According to Nanda (2006), teenage females give birth to 15 million infants every year. Thus, teenage pregnancy is a concern from both a human rights and a public health perspective. Teenage pregnancy and its effect on teenage motherhood are among the major societal problems confronting the contemporary global community (Gatara & Muriuki, 2005). In Ghana, for example, one report estimates that nearly one-third of the childbirths recorded in public hospitals occurred to women under 19 years of age (Xinhua, 2006). The prevalence is higher in the rural areas and small- to-medium-sized towns which are often under-represented in the hospital birth statistics.
A survey conducted by the UN Regional Institute for Population Studies reported that one out of three girls aged 15 to 19 living in Ghana's Central Region has had a child (Xinhua, 2006). Similar prevalence of teenage pregnancies have been described for other African countries (Mwansa et aI., 2004). One study in Swaziland found that females aged 15-19 years accounted for 32.8 per cent of the total fertility (Gule, 2005). Another study reported that females in the same age group contributed 103 births per 1000 women in the Kenya (Gatara & Muriuki, 2005). It has been estimated that at least one out of twenty girls is likely to give birth during the school-going age. Data for Botswana also show that by 2004, about 25 percent of girls 15-19 years old were already mothers (Curtis, 2008). Two years later, in 2006, 56 per cent of the girls had dropped out of secondary schools in the country due to pregnancy (Mashalaba, 2009).
On explaining the factors that contribute to teenage pregnancy, (Anderson, 2001) found that in poor neighbourhoods, teenagers experience less control over many aspects of their lives than the non-poor.. Anderson (2001) has further reported that some impoverished teenage girls consider childbirth as a rare source of self-esteem, or a sign of growing up, while sexual conquest brings a feeling of accomplishment to some teenage boys to whom legitimate opportunities may be blocked (Farley, 2005).
The discussion of teenage pregnancy and childbirth therefore, tends to characterise the problem as mainly a feature of the poor segment of society. Besides, a literature review (Lewis, 2006; 2009) shows that aside poverty, factors such as early exposure to sexual activity, lack of sex education, weak parental control and supervision, peer pressure, low self-esteem and the need for self-fulfillment are associated with teenage pregnancy. It is in light of these factors that this study seeks to assess the factors that influence teenage pregnancy and their effects in the Sunyani Municipality in order to help policy makers address the problem.
1.2 Problem Statement
Teenage pregnancy has long...