Teen Pregnancy and Family Deconstruction

"Within the last ten years the social stigma of being a teenage mother has disappeared and a culture shift in acceptance of teenage pregnancy is evolving. The media, with the help of Hollywood, has been able to portray teen pregnancy as nothing more than a bump in the road or a badge of bad girl honor." With teenage pregnancy being a hot topic for Hollywood, cultural attention to the problem for teen sexual activity and parenting is necessary.
"Teenage pregnancy has been around as long as there have been teenagers, but its pervasiveness in the United States, the dimensions of its social cost, and the urgent need to attack the problem is in dire need. The United States has the highest teenage pregnancy and birth rate of all the industrialized nations. American teenagers become pregnant twice as often as Canadian teenagers, three times as often as Swedish teenagers and seven times as often as teens from the Netherlands." In 2004 there were 750,000 teen births, 15% of which were intended pregnancies equating to 100,000 intended births. Focusing specifically on teenager mothers ages 15 to17, there were a total of 250,000 pregnancies, 27,000 those were intended. In 2005, the United States teen pregnancy rate reached its lowest point in more than thirty years, an alarming 69.5 per 1,000. Just one short year later, for the first time in a decade, the United States had its first increase in the teen pregnancy rate. In 2006, the pregnancy rate for teenage girls was 71.5 per 1,000, equating to 750,000 women under the age of twenty becoming pregnant. Out of the 71.5 per 1,000 teenagers who became pregnant, 41.9 per 1,000 gave birth."
Nicole Thurston, Candidate for Juris Doctor 2011, Hispanic Law Students Association, Vice President of Community Affairs and Secretary for Public Interest Law at Regent University School of Law just completed some excellent research on teen pregnancy, its popularity, and what it is costing government coffers. Here's more of what she found:
"The media’s portrayal of teenage pregnancy shines light on the initial difficulties of being a young mother, but fails to show long term consequences. Those who become pregnant as teenagers are at greater risk of social and economic disadvantages. Teenage mothers are less likely to complete their education, to be employed, to earn higher wages, and to be happily married. In addition, they are likely to have larger families and to receive welfare. Teenage mothers also have characteristics that often lead to long term reliance on welfare.
The dependence of teenage mothers on government assistance has come at a great expense of government finance. Within the first five years of child birth half of teen mothers turn to welfare for support. In ten states alone the government cost of assisting teenage mothers was $578 million. A study published by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (hereinafter, “National Campaign”) in 2004, estimated the future cost of teenage pregnancy for the local, state, and federal government to be at least $9.1 billion.

Today’s pregnant teenagers turn to the media for guidance and foreshadowing of the experience to come. These pregnant teenagers think to themselves, “I won’t have to quit school and when I do have the baby the father and I can take care of him just like Amy and Ryan in The Secret life of the American Teenager.” These teenagers are unaware that only forty percent of teen mothers who give birth at age 17 or earlier graduate high school. Out of those teen mothers, only twenty-three percent go on to earn their General Educational Development (hereinafter, “G.E.D”). Or these pregnant teenagers think that money will not be an issue and like Nathan and Halley Scott, of One Tree Hill, they will get married and each have lucrative careers. However, majority of families headed by teenage mothers have an income that is less than half of the poverty line. Those teenagers who give birth at age 17 or younger can expect to earn $28,000 less in the fifteen years after the child’s birth compared to those who delay childbirth to at least age 20. In addition, teenage mothers with limited education and labor market skills face numerous obstacles in obtaining a secure job. Those teen mothers who earn a G.E.D. will be saddened upon discovering the G.E.D has a minimal labor market value and earns no more than high school dropouts. The unrealistic expectations placed into the young minds of pregnant teenagers and the unsightly reality of the financial cost to the government must be discussed.

This article examines whether Hollywood’s portrayal of teen motherhood has affected the role of teen pregnancy at a cost to the state and federal government. Section I of this article presents and discusses the explosion of teen pregnancy in the media and the resulting fame for these teen mothers. Section II identifies the reality teen mothers will face. Both the career and educational limitations placed on teen mothers will be discussed, in addition to drawing on true life experiences from teen mothers. Section III explores the solutions the government has implemented to assist pregnant teenagers. An introduction to the programs of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (Hereinafter, “TANF”) and Women Infants and Children (hereinafter, “WIC”) are discussed; addressing the goals and eligibility requirements for these programs. Also, the cost of teen pregnancy for the first year of child birth, in addition to a projected future cost of teen pregnancy will be analyzed and discussed. Lastly, Section IV suggests an alternative proposal for addressing teen motherhood.

This article critiques the finding that MTV’s programs Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant are not glamorizing teen pregnancy. The shows efforts are applauded, but with an increase in teen pregnancy rates for the first time in ten years, the message is not coming across to viewers. This article proposes awarding grants to create media that exposes teens to the sobering reality of teen pregnancy or to programs willing to use a form of media to educate the youth. It is evident that teen pregnancy is become a prevalent problem in the United States and the cost of providing for these mothers and their children is increasing, for this reason the media must take the first step in promoting prevention of teen pregnancy."

Read the entire article here.

1 comment:

  1. This is merely pro-choice propaganda.
    Does the author think that teens in the Netherlands are having less sex than American Teens, or is that the Dutch are having 7 times the abortions as Americans?

    This article dwells on all the economic hardships that result from having children young, pages right out of the planned parenthood handbook.

    The only real solution is Christ, without Christ as the cornerstone of one's life, teenagers will be having sex, and America should be applauded that her children are choosing to give birth rather than abort the baby in the womb.