The result of this, as seen above, is that these mothers lack job skills, making it difficult not only to find employment that could adequately support themselves and their children, but also to retain these jobs once they find them. The result is that about 64% of children born under such conditions live in poverty, compared to 7% of children born to married women older than 20 and who are high school graduates. The legacy repeats itself with these children; they are 50% more likely to repeat a grade during their entire school career, they perform badly on standardized tests, and they tend to drop out of high school before finishing (March of Dimes, 2009).
Despite the programs and schools that exist to help them finish their studies, Mangel (2010) states quite bluntly that most pregnant teens drop out of school, after which they face a lifetime of economic insecurity at best, and of hardship at worst. The author adds discrimination as an extra dimension to the difficulties that pregnant teenagers face.
Huus (2010) notes that teen mothers who do not finish high school have much less earning potential than those who do finish high school and those who do not have children until later. According to the author, girls who have a child by 17, can expect to earn $28,000 less in th 15 years after birth than if they had children later in life. Sadly, the legacy repeats itself, with daughters of teen mothers being three times more likely than their peers to become teen mothers themselves, and sons being more likely to enter the prison system.
Mangel (2010) notes that civil rights issues could play a significant role, since there is a notable disparity between affluent areas and less affluent areas when comes to teen pregnancy rates. According to the author, the trend has been for pregnancy among White and Asian students to decrease, while it has been unchanged for American Indian, Hispanic, and Black students. In the Hispanic community, for example, about half of teenage girls become pregnant, compared to the national average of about a quarter. According to Mangel (2010), most girls who fall pregnant drop out of high school as a direct result. The author reports that most of these girls indicated that they would have stayed in school with greater support from the adults involved.
Conclusions and Recommendations
In addition to steps that can be taken to mitigate the situations faced by teenage mothers, another recommendation is to promote prevention among young people and schools. Because of the risks and lifetime hardships involved, entities like "March of Dimes" (2009) recommend that preventative action be taken, in the form of educational sessions encouraging young girls to take precautions when having sex, or to abstain from sex altogether until they are ready for children.
In the event of unplanned pregnancy, it is recommended that young mothers engage in healthy habits and activities, including healthy diet, healthy weight, and not smoking, drinking, or taking drugs.
Institutes such as Naral (2010, p.1) recommends that emergency contraception be made available to teenagers of all ages, rather than only those who are over 18. Also known as the "morning after" pill, the drug is available to women who have not taken any precautions when engaged in sexual activity. Girls who are younger than 18 need their parents' permission to obtain the drug. This is often a deterrent for girls who are afraid to tell their parents of their indiscreet activities. Hence, the recommendation is based upon the fact that more teenagers at risk of pregnancy could be helped if not required to inform their parents.
In conclusion, teenage pregnancy is a very difficult social, economic, and health issue. The tragedy is that many of these pregnancies can be prevented with sufficient education and parental guidance. Those who do fall pregnant should be guided without prejudice to help them and their unborn children become productive members of society, as well as economically viable to support themselves and their children towards a brighter future.
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Avert.org. (2011). Abstinence and Sex Education. Retrieved from: http://www.avert.org/abstinence.htm
Beck, J. (2011). Why Teens Drop out of High School. WomensForum. Retrieved from: http://www.womensforum.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3082:why-teens-drop-out-of-high-school&catid=14:education&Itemid=44
Clasp (2002). Add it Up: Teen Parents and Welfare…Undercounted, Oversanctioned, Underserved. Retrieved from: http://www.clasp.org/admin/site/publications/files/0090.pdf
Huus, K. (2010, Feb 19). A baby changes everything: The true cost of teen pregnancy's uptick. Retrieved from: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35448556/ns/us_news-the_elkhart_project/t/baby-changes-everything-true-cost-teen-pregnancys-uptick/
Mangel, L. (2010, Oct. 25). Teen Preganncy, Discrimination, and the Dropout Rate. American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved from: http://www.aclu-wa.org/blog/teen-pregnancy-discrimination-and-dropout-rate
March of Dimes (2009, Nov.) Teenage Pregnancy. Retrieved from: http://www.marchofdimes.com/medicalresources_teenpregnancy.html
Naral Pro-Choice America Foundation. (2010, Jan 1). Emergency Contraception Can Help Reduce the Teen-Pregnancy Rate. Retrieved from: http://www.naral.org/media/fact-sheets/birth-control-ec-teen-pregnancy.pdf
The National Campaign. (2010, Aug.) Teen Pregnancy and Child Welfare. Retrieved from: http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/why-it-matters/pdf/child_welfare.pdf
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Subcommittee on Empowerment, Washington, DC, July 16, 1998. Retrieved from: http://www.virginia.edu/marriageproject/pdfs/print_teenpregnancy.pdf