Teens, Sex, and Virginity - Teenage Pregnancy

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Teenage Pregnancy

 
     Teenage pregnancy has always been present in society. There is research stating that about half the women, born between 1900- 1910, who were interviewed were non-virginal at marriage (17 Ravoira). This contradicts some thoughts that premarital sexual behavior is something new. There was another study done in 1953, it found that one fifth of all first births to women were conceived before marriage (17 Ravoira). Even before our modern openness in discussing sexual behavior and acceptance that it does occur, it was quite routine. In earlier society, the incidence of teenage pregnancy was a moral problem. This was because people looked at the child as filius nullius (nobody's child), or illegitimate and the mother as bad, immoral, over- sexed, etc. (18 Ravoira). The child was being blamed for mearly being born, this is unfair to the child who had no fault in the matter (18 Ravoira). The real problem that was seen was the fact that the children were born out-of-wedlock. People seemed to have real difficulty accepting that the baby is still a baby no matter what conditions it was born under.

 

Many women were punished for being pregnant and were regarded as sex offenders or delinquents. During the 1950's, there were homes were unmarried young women were sent, along with their babies. They were made to stay in these uncomfortable, non-nurturing conditions for months, almost like prison, for the crime of bringing a baby into the world . This was thought to be a solution to any financial burdens the woman and her child might cause (18 Ravoira). More commonly, the young women were sent away to the homes of relatives, etc. to have their babies, and then a hasty adoption was secured. This was to prevent social disgrace for the family (19 Ravoira). Obviously, teenage pregnancy has always been present but, was previously regarded as a moral problem. With the onset of the "sexual revolution" in the 1960s and 70s there were some major changes. An important one being that people were more likely to verbally express what they had been doing sexually. This probably occurred because of the ability to control conception through contraception. There wasn't really an increase in then number of sexually experienced black teenagers but, the number of white teenagers went up. During the 1970's, the number of white teens who were sexually experienced doubled, and along with that birthrates of these teens increased by more than 50 percent. It was during this time that adolscent pregnancy changed from a moral issue to an economic or welfare issue (20 Ravoira).

 

Over 1 million teenagers become pregnant in the United States every year. Only about half of them give birth. The fact that 11,500 of these births in 1989 were to girls 14 and under is scary (1 Freeman). These are not just teenagers but "children having children." Surprisingly, though, the teenage birth rates are falling. In the early 1970s, 61.7 births per 1000...

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