In the 1990's, the United States exhibited a decreasing trend in the rates of pre-marital sex and teen pregnancies. However, the rate of teenage pregnancy in United States is yet considered to be alarming in comparison to that of other developed countries of the world. It has been estimated that about 1 million teenage girls in the U.S. are being victims of teenage pregnancy every year.
Due to the fact that teen mothers and babies are vulnerable to health hazards, the considerable birth rates among teens have become alarming. The ignorance of pregnant youngsters deprives them of taking appropriate medical attention, making them vulnerable to medical complexities. The teenage pregnancies have tremendous emotional impact on the adolescents. Under feeding, negligence in taking nutrients, habits of smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse etc. which are common among most of the youngsters make their newly born babies prone to health hazards. Besides, the children of teenage mothers are supposed to face problems relating to social and emotional also. The pregnancy among youngsters is considered to be a catastrophe to both the victim as well as her family members. Resentment, blame and denunciations of teen mothers are considered to be major follow-ups from the side of family members.
Current Policy Solutions:
In 1996 enactment of welfare law was made with a view to reducing pre-marital pregnancy rates among the youngsters. Various provisions aimed at attaining the objectives include; education on self restraint warranting per annum investment of 50 Million USD; ensuring completion of the High School Education by the teenage mothers and provision of necessary support for living in an observed environment; ensuring social recognition through establishment of the child's father and payment of child support; declaration of an incentive of 20 million USD to 5 States of outstanding success in combating pre-marital birth rate and abortions; incentives amounting to 1 billion USD for heartening efforts for organization and continuance of the two-parent families. (Johns; Moncloa & Gong, 2000, p.31)
In order to discourage pregnancies among youngsters the Law provided ample discretion to the States to refuse the incentives to the victims or to the teen mothers having more children. However, no State have denied benefits to the youngster mothers however, about 23 States have denied benefits to the teenage mothers having more children. The law impels the states to chalk out plans and programs for reducing pre-marital pregnancies more particularly, pregnancies among the youngsters. "The National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy', was started on the eve of 1997 in the United States in consonance to the demands of the U.S. congress for an acceptable approach in this regard and also on the basis of a decree for confirming the plans in this regard, so that over 25% of communities in the country have access to teen pregnancy prevention programs. (Johns; Moncloa & Gong, 2000, p.35)
In order to attain the objective, HHS had made initiations for long-term collaborative efforts throughout the country. Various programs for combating pregnancy among youngsters have been introduced during the last 30 years that counteracted the impeding factors. The programs so formulated encompass programs such as educating the youngsters about self restraint, about their wide reach ability to the contraceptives etc. Thus the educational programs involve teachings on self-discipline and self-restraint along with appropriate use of contraceptives. Programs improving the proficiency in Postponing Sexual Involvement and combating the risk factors involved are covered under the category. (Wong & Checkland, 1999, p.42) With a view to make the contraceptives reachable to school children efforts were made for establishment of clinics in School campus and associating the existing clinics to schools educating the children on adoption of family control measures. On the other hand pre-job training, entertainment, assessment, training on development of life skills, attending to the physical and psychological ailments are covered under multi-component programs for reducing teenage pregnancies.
Strengths of Current Policy
Even though there was a decreasing trend in the teen age birthrates during 1970's and 1980's, however, this has been attributed to the increased abortions rather than avoidance. But during 1990's the reducing teen birthrates are considered to be the consequences of less cases of pregnancies rather than increased number of abortions. The education in this line has caused fewer cases of teen age sex. Sexual vigor at teen ages made the youngsters vulnerable to the threat of pregnancies irrespective of efforts made in educating them on the use of contraceptives up to 1990's. (Arthur, 1996, p.12) Declining trend in teen birthrates has been noticed in present times due to avoidance of sex on the one hand and safer use of contraceptives on the other. Presently, reduction in the rate of teen births and also rehabilitation of the pre-marital born children is observed.
Astonishingly, a sharp reduction in the pre-marital birthrates among black youngsters has also been noticed. This is estimated to be 20% in 1990's and considered to be the most significant fall among all the groups. (Wong & Checkland, 1999, p.56) The factors attributing to such glaring decline in the sexual activities, pregnancy and pre-marital births are still under research. Demographers have put forth various clarifications. The threat of AIDS impelled the youngsters to resort to self-restraint and use of contraceptives in the present days at a greater magnitude. On the other hand the measures taken by means of the enactment of welfare law has also contributed towards this. The declining trend has been of course visualized prior to the enforcement of welfare law in 1996, yet the trend is considered to be the result of prolonged discussions on the law preceding its enactment and prior measures of States in the direction.
Weaknesses of current policy glaring decline in both the teen age birth rates as well as teen age pregnancies has been noticed in 1990's. The trends preceding the enactment of welfare reforms is a testimony to the fact that several other elements are also contributing towards the result. Two programs have contributed to 50% of the success. (Arthur, 1996, p.27) The program aimed at counseling of teens in the Community Service Centers under the guidance of adults and various educational programs relating to the coaching and counseling on sex activities and health services are two such programs attributing to the achievement. Infusing the ideas of avoidance of early sex and use of contraceptives successfully among the teens are also seen even in the cost effective and extensive methods of sex education.
These programs have been successful in spreading the significance of self restraint, sex avoidance and use of contraceptives, developing skills among the teens to avoid the pressure of having sex and also practicing effective communication and negotiation with the mates. The programs relating to the self-restraint and sex avoidance are of recent origin and are not prone to cautious assessments irrespective of its discouraging results. The present trend of the decreasing teenage birthrates poses a positive view of the future. Still the fact of its being double in magnitude in comparison to that of the other developed countries and still higher in comparison to its figures during 1970's makes the trend still alarming.
It has been estimated that only 50% of the teen age pregnancies have survived the terms while the other part is met with premature termination by abortion or miscarriage. (Wong & Checkland, 1999, p.68) Marriage to the father of the baby occurs only with a small number of teen age mothers, which was the trend during last three to four decades and even less number parts their baby for adoption. These conclusions warns of the total failure of the welfare measures and creation of a labor class subservient to the welfare measures, unless the law makes an effort in bringing behavioral change in youngsters that contribute to pre-marital mothers. Failure in the welfare measures have been foreseen in absence of its prioritized attention towards assisting the pre-marital mothers.
A bonus of 20 million USD per annum has been announced by the Congress for the States having remarkable achievement in decreasing the teenage and pre-marital births which encouraged some of the governors to contribute concentrated efforts in this direction. (Arthur, 1996, p.34) The complicacies involved in handling the problem have deterred many States from concentrating on them. The issue has successfully been shifted to the local governments and non-profiteering non-government organizations. Conventionally, all the measures aiming at preventing teen pregnancies have revolved around the educating the youth on sex education and emphasizing on family planning measures. Education on sex activities irrespective of its widespread availability, are considered to be inadequate and a much delayed phenomenon. It has been observed that the activities in order to be effective, education required in this field should emphasize much on developing skills among the youngsters to manage the relationships, avoid the pressures of sex and to negotiate the problems rather than emphasizing on the reproductive biology.
The use of contraceptives among the teens is noticed to have increased in considerably in comparison to their use in the past and their most…