The teenage pregnancy rate in the U.S. is the highest pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. That means more than in Europe and Canada. Teenagers are getting pregnant in the US at an alarming rate.
According to the Children’s Defense Fund, as of March 2013, 914 children are born to teenage mothers per day. Every 82 seconds a baby is born to a teen mother and students are sexually active more often than not. In 2011, 47% of all high school students reported having had sexual intercourse, and this was higher among boys (49%) compared to girls (46%). Of those students that reported having sex, only 60% reported using some form of protection.
This level of reckless behavior increases the likelihood that a young person can contract and transmit a sexually transmitted disease or infection. In fact, unprotected sex puts millions of teens at risk. Sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an important and scientifically valid term because dangerous pathogenic organisms can be present in the human body without causing disease. It is therefore appropriate to refer to this condition as a sexually transmitted infection. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) result from damage caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that has progressed. Although all STDs are preceded by STIs, not all STIs result in the development of STDs. Sexually Transmitted Infections or STI’s are more prevalent now more than ever before. One in four teens contract an STD or STI.
The rise in sexual promiscuity and reckless sexual conduct may be due to a lack of information. Many youth are afraid to ask their parents about sex. In fact, 83% of kids do not talk about it with their parents and get information from unreliable outside sources.
Though STDs and STIs are a common outcome of unprotected sex, so too is unplanned pregnancy. Teen pregnancy is one of the many contributors to the high school dropout rate. Only 50% of teen mothers receive their diploma by age 22. That means 1 out of every 2 teen mothers are not receiving a high school education. It is difficult to care for a child and raise a family without a high school education.
Contributing factors to a high teenage pregnancy rate include segregated neighborhoods, low income and low education teens and families, teens in the child welfare system like foster care, and those that live in rural areas. Peer pressure is also a factor with many teens feeling pressure from their partners if there are important dates that come up to be sexually active. We are happy to have learned that contrary to popular belief, many young men are okay with waiting to have sex and would be more comfortable being in love than losing their virginity early.
According to research conducted by the CDC, children of teenage mothers are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as a teenager, and face unemployment as a young adult.
Some critics have weighed in on popularizing teen pregnancy though the media. Producers of MTV’s Teen Mom have defended their decision to put a spotlight on the issue and claimed the show would prevent more young girls from getting pregnant if they saw what it was really like to be a teenage mother. According to www.Today.com, it did. “16 and Pregnant,” which took an unprecedented look at the lives of six teenage girls who ended up pregnant, didn’t shy away from showing viewers the struggles that an unplanned pregnancy can bring. After the first season aired, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy credited the show as being a contributing factor in helping the teen pregnancy rate drop in 2009 for the first time in years.