Approximately every two minutes, a teenage girl in the United States gives birth (Guernsey 6). While this fact may be sad and startling to most people, it is in deed the truth. Over the past few decades, the problem of teen pregnancy has grown considerably in this country. It has been receiving a great deal of public and official attention recently, including expressions of concern from President Clinton and New Jersey's Governor Whitman (Schurmann 7). However, the most extensive dilemma regarding the issue of adolescent pregnancy is the incredibly important question of prevention. Preventing teen pregnancy includes such problems as the availability of birth control, sexual education among children and adolescents, and a greater sense of support for pregnant teens. However, before society can begin to successfully prevent pregnancies among teenage girls, the underlying causes and facts about the dilemma must first be exposed. While eighty-five percent of the teenage girls who become pregnant every year do not plan their pregnancies, an alarming fifteen percent of these pregnancies are in fact intentional (Bell 107). Some girls are under the false pretenses that having a baby will provide them with a certain amount of love that is currently missing in their lives. Many also believe that with this new life they have helped create will come a renewed sense of hope (107). These incentives reflect emotional problems that will not be solved by becoming pregnant, but will only get worse. In addition, a considerable amount of girls become pregnant as a secret plan to hold on to their boyfriends (Guernsey 37). They assume that by giving birth to their boyfriends' babies, he will stick around longer and the relationship will improve as a result. However, the reality is that if a relationship is not strong enough to survive on its own, the presence of a baby will simply make it much more difficult. There are several myths surrounding teen and adolescent pregnancy. Some of these myths are misunderstandings that many teenagers have, regarding sexual activity and pregnancy. A common deception among teens is that it is impossible to impregnate someone, or become pregnant the first time they have sex. Not only is this extremely false, it just so happens that approximately one out of twenty girls becomes pregnant the first time she has sex, and as many as ninety percent of all pregnancies occur within the first year of sexual activity (Guernsey 19-20). Another common myth among teenagers is that you cannot get pregnant if you have intercourse while standing up and that pregnancy cannot occur unless the girl is over sixteen years old (Jakobson 32). There are also myths that the adult world perpetuates regarding teens and teen pregnancy. Some of the more common ones are that most pregnant teens are "bad girls", and that many teens who have children together wind up getting married to one another. The reality is that teen and adolescent pregnancy is an issue that concerns and involves all types of girls from all races and incomes ("Preventing" 3). Regarding the marriage of teen parents, only ten percent of teen parents marry, and the majority of the time the marriages do not work out. Before the problem of teen pregnancy is attacked, it is important for both teens and adults to have a better understanding of exactly what the issues are, and to acknowledge the extreme differences between the lies and the facts. A common misconception about the prevention of teen pregnancy is that the increase of contraception availability will result in an increase of pregnancies. Forty-five percent of people interviewed said that they believed that if schools were to begin dispensing birth control products, "it [would] make teenagers more likely to engage in sexual activities" (Newsweek 56). This ties in very closely with the ever-growing debate of legal abortions. Many believe that when abortions are legalized people (particularly teenagers,) will begin...
Cited: Ayer, Eleanor H. Everything You Need To Know about Teen Fatherhood. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 1993. Bell, Alison. "Pregnant on Purpose." Teen August 1997: 106-108. Guernsey, JoAnn Bren. The Facts about Teen Pregnancy. New York: Crestwood House, 1989. Harris, Yvette R. "Adolescent Abortion." Time January 1992: 21-22. Jakobson, Cathryn. Think About Teenage Pregnancy. New York: Walker and Company, 1988 "Kids and Contraceptives." Newsweek 16 February 1987: 54-65. Preventing Children Having Children. Clearinghouse Paper, The Children 's Defense Fund. Schurmann, Ann. No Accident: Adolescent Pregnancy in New Jersey Since 1988. New Jersey: The Network for Family Life Education, 1998.
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