Becoming a mother in her teenage years is not an ideal situation for most young women. Young adults in this age bracket are still growing, physically and emotionally, and are not always as equipped to handle adult situations as they might think. Teen mothers face adult responsibilities even before they give birth, and the obligations continue for years down the road. Teenage pregnancy in developed countries is usually outside of marriage, and carries a social stigma in many communities and cultures, which ultimately takes a huge toll on adolescent mothers as there are many pressures put on her to resort to abortion, something that is potentially harming psychologically and physically. Additionally, this social stigma furthers the negative judgment from the surrounding people in the teen mother’s life including friends, family, teachers, employers, and strangers; this negative judgment may include a great deal of prejudice placed on the mother, implying their promiscuity, and the assumptions that they will get into drugs, and resort to welfare. Furthermore, teenage pregnancy and parenting interfere with education, resulting in limited employment options and difficulties earning the great deal of money needed for the additional costs of raising a child. The need to sacrifice many social opportunities that coincide with adolescence arises, as well as the challenges in keeping up with friends that are on completely different life paths than the teen mother. Also, difficulties maintaining stable relationships with the father of the child, and family members of the pregnant/parenting teenager emerge.
Social stigma is the extreme disapproval of, or discontent with, a person on socially characteristic grounds that are perceived, and serve to distinguish them, from other members of a society. Stigma may then be affixed to such a person, by the greater society, who differs from their cultural norms. This can be applied to the issue of teenage pregnancy and parenting in a variety of ways. Many pregnant teenagers are often pressured to refer to the option of abortion, which is an initial challenge they face that, can result in confusion and stress. Amy R. Sobie and David C. Reardon state in their research, “Detrimental Effects of Adolescent Abortion” that studies have shown that the major factors in pregnancy decision making among teens are the attitude of the teen’s parents, the baby’s father, her peers, and the cultural and public policy attitudes toward abortion by which she is surrounded. Essentially, compared to older women, teens are more likely to abort because of pressure from their parents or sexual partners, putting them at higher risk for adverse psychological effects after abortion. Additionally, teens are also more likely to report having wanted to keep the baby, higher levels of feeling misinformed in pre-abortion counseling, less satisfaction with abortion services and greater post-abortion stress. As a result, they consider the abortion procedure itself to be stressful and associated with feelings of guilt, depression, and a sense of isolation. Researchers have also found that reports of more severe pain during abortion among younger women are linked to greater levels of anxiety and fear prior to the abortion (Reardon & Sobie, 2001). Therefore, it is evidently proven that a challenge within the social stigma of teenage pregnancy is the pressure placed on pregnant teens of choosing abortion. Reardon and Sobie also describe the damaging effects of this pressure, which ultimately contributes to the overall difficulties a pregnant young woman face.
Generally, teenage pregnancy is unplanned, and out of wedlock. Social stigmas about pregnancy have been around for decades, even centuries. “Parent Profiles” is an online organization dedicated to helping birth mothers find the right adoptive family for their child. An article entitled “Dealing with Social Stigmas” suggests that history has shown that many unwed mothers...
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National Campaign to Prevent Pregnancy (2004). Teen Pregnancy – So What? In Lisa Frick (Ed), Current Controversies: Teen Pregnancy and Parenting (p.30). Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale
Reardon, David C., & Sobie, Amy R. (2001). Detrimental Effects of Adolescent Abortion. In Lisa Frick (Ed), Current Controversies: Teen Pregnancy and Parenting (p.157). Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale
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