Americans take great pride in their leadership among nations. Such a distinction becomes embarrassing however when the title is claimed for the highest teenage pregnancy rate of any developed nation with nearly one million pregnancies each year. There has been extensive research on the phenomenon of teenage pregnancy which has yielded important information about pregnancy rates and risk factors. Researchers concur that pregnancy is a time of dramatic transition. A first time pregnancy propels the mother from the status of woman to mother. While these changes are noteworthy for the adult woman confronting pregnancy, their effect is frequently magnified when the expecting mother is an adolescent. Adolescent childbearing has become a prominent social issue because of the broad social and economic consequences (Harvy, 1995).
Statement of the Problem
Adolescent childbearing has become a prominent social issue because of the broad social and personal consequences. Babies born to teen mothers are at increased risk of developing physical, social, and cognitive problems and deficiencies. Teenage mothers are at increased risk for pre-term labor and premature childbirth. They are also at increased risk of pregnancy complications, infant physical disability, and low birth weight. In many cases prenatal medical care is frequently delayed or inadequately delivered.
Not only are there personal issues, there are social issues as well. For example, adolescent mothers are less likely to receive child support from biological fathers, less likely to work, and less likely to be able to provide for themselves and children without outside assistance (Coard, 2000). It is well documented that teenage mothers do not acquire as much education as teens who delay childbearing, therefore they are less likely to find stable employment and more likely to rely on public assistance, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty. In fact one half of teen mothers go on welfare within a year and 77% within five years of the birth of a child (Corcoran, 1999). While teenagers make up less than 8% of the welfare caseload, 43% of long-term recipients gave birth for the first time when they were 17 years old or younger (Harris, 1998). As of Spring 1999 the estimated cost of society subsidizing these births is 20 billion dollars (Kellogg, 1999).
Importance of the Problem
Approximately every two minutes, a teenage girl in the United States gives birth (Ravert, 1997). 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 (Trad, 1999). However, the most extensive dilemma regarding the issue of adolescent pregnancy is the 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...