Teaching teenagers about abstinence would likely mean stronger families in the community, which by comparison would also mean that the community was stronger as well.
Additional studies presented data that could also be taken into consideration concerning the causes and the effects of teenage pregnancies, both positive and negative in nature. Many of the studies found that poverty and race both had impacts on the teenage pregnancy and birth rates, and that consideration of such factors might be conducive in attacking the problem. A 2004 study showed that teenage pregnancies were 2.8 times more common among Blacks than among non-Hispanic Whites in 2000" (Alan Guttmacher, 2004).
It would make sense then to concentrate on African-American teenage girls or to provide programs in those neighborhoods where African-American girls reside. A fact sheet produced by teenpregnancy.org asks the question: "What are the chances of a child growing up in poverty if 1) the mother gives birth as a teen, 2) the parents were unmarried when the child was born, and 3) the mother did not receive a high school diploma or GED" (Why it matters, 2006). The fact sheet provides the answer; 27% if one event occurs, 42% if two events take place and 64% will grow up in poverty in all three events unfold. However, "if none of these things happen, a child's chance of growing up in poverty is 7%" (Zill, O'Donnell, 2004).
With the economy in its current doldrums, the effects of poverty is being felt by more individuals and families, and measures taken to help alleviate the situation will go a long way towards helping the community become stronger.
Poverty can be a debilitating force and considering the wealth generating capabilities of the United States and its citizens, it should be a problem that can be addressed and overcome. Oftentimes, the young are more adversely affected by poverty's force than those who are older, wiser and more stable. If the young are bearing young, then the affects can be even more devastating as they struggle to not only care for themselves, but for a child as well. Concerning teenage pregnancies, one group of researchers concluded; "Our study suggests that levels of relative deprivation may be an underlying cause" (Mookherjee, Pickett, Wilkinson, 2005, p. 1181).
Another author made the point that uneducated sex is "intrinsically linked to poverty, social disadvantage, and poor education" (Why I'm glad, p. 8). The same author touts the opinion that "Keeping kids in the dark about sex is no answer. It is ignorance rather than knowledge which leads to unwanted pregnancies and sexual diseases." (Why I'm glad, 2004, p. 7). Literary opinions such as these seem to send the wrong message. The author of this article was actually happy that her daughter had underage sex. The author wanted everyone to know that all society has to do to combat teenage pregnancies is to educate our children in how to have sex safely.
The proposed study would take a far less cynical approach than the one being espoused by the above article. Since it has been shown that the only sure way of not becoming pregnant is by abstaining from having sexual intercourse, the study will focus on teaching teenagers the benefits of abstinence.
The study could also approach the more liberal philosophy of allowing sexual intercourse at earlier ages, as some would suggest, but in this case it would be much better to concentrate on one simple method, rather than complicating that method by introducing another. The proposed approach can be especially effective in schools where students already have a preconception of the moral right or wrong of certain actions including sexual activities before marriage. This preconception is evident in some schools as presented by a 2007 study.
The study discovered evidence of "endogenous social interactions (social multipliers), where the propensity of an individual choosing to have sex varies with the average behavior in his or her school" (Fletcher, 2007, p. 373). The study results open a door of opportunity for teaching and collaboration in areas in Georgia. If it is true that students are swayed by their peers as Fletcher's study suggests, then it would become easier to teach students about the benefits of abstinence as more students accepted the philosophy as a course they would choose. The potential for an ever-expanding circle of influence seems to be a highly likely event. Fletcher's study further concludes that "these findings might help explain the large variation in sexual initiation across schools in the United States" (Fletcher, p. 374). By comparison, the decline in the teenage pregnancy rate in Georgia means that these students are making the choice to abstain from sexual activities, or at the very least the teenagers are being much more careful in choosing their activities.
That choice also augers well for the proposed study in that students who choose to abstain will influence other students who then might choose to do the same.
Sarah S. Brown, director of the National Campaign to Reduce Teenage Pregnancy said in a 2005 interview that "reducing teen pregnancy can be accomplished only by fewer teens being sexually active and/or by better use of effective contraception among those who are" (Brown, 2005, p. 65).
She asserted that both behaviors were direct links to the decline in teen pregnancies, and that more of the same would be needed to sustain the decline. She said "all of the National Campaign's efforts center on affecting these two behaviors" (Brown, p. 66) and that they accomplish that goal by communicating directly with the teens or by providing information and data to those who work with the teens and that have some influence over the teen's behavior regarding their sexual behavior. Other experts agree with Brown's assessment, at least according to the latest literature. In 2004, Julie Gerberding, Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented a report that showed the birth rate among young adolescents aged 10-14 had fallen to its lowest level since 1946. At that time she said; "We are encouraged by our continued progress in reducing births to teens of all ages, but we are particularly pleased to make this kind of progress in such a young and vulnerable group" (as Teen, 2004, p. 7).
According to the available literature, teenagers are getting the message concerning sexual activities. Many of today's youngsters seem to be either abstaining from sexual intercourse entirely, or are modifying their behavior concerning their premarital sexual activities in a more careful manner. This is true across America but it might not be as true in foreign countries, especially in the Far East where the trend in teenage pregnancies is upward.
One study shows that with the influence of modern media is readily available even in less developed countries.
The study presented data that "traditional restrictive moral codes concerning the sexual conduct of young women in much of Asia and Latin America are weakening under the influence of models of behavior that are portrayed in the mass media" (Caldwell, 2003, p. 660). According to the study these trends in reproductive behavior are "giving rise to greater premarital sexual activity, unintended conceptions, abortions, and sexually transmitted infections" (Caldwell, p. 661).
Other literature concurs with the above study in regards to teenage sexual activities in the Far East, but other countries that use the same approach as that espoused by the proposed study have shown declines as well, which is part of the reason why such methods are promoted.
One interesting point made by a recent study is that the age at which the teenage pregnancies are calculated is not necessarily set in stone. The study states that "we conclude that early adolescent childbearing is best defined as giving birth at 15 years or younger" (Phipps, Sowers, 2002, p. 128).
The veracity of that statement would change the proposed study's focus as well as the focus and conclusions of many of the studies already completed on this same subject. The study graphed the rates of infant mortality, very low birth weight, and very pre-term delivery by maternal age. On all three cases "the inflection point which the poor birth outcome is lower and begins to stabilize is at 16 years" (Phipps, et al., p. 128).
The outcome presented by the study was the same when compared by the three largest U.S. racial/ethnic groups (non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black and Mexican-American).
The focus of the proposed study will be to ascertain whether the educational approach used to teach abstinence is effective as it is presented by New Horizons and AHYD. This is an important endeavor because of the overwhelming effect that teenage pregnancies and births can have, not only on the individuals and families directly involved but on the community and the country as well. The proposed study can have additional influence due to recent economic woes being suffered throughout the U.S. A 2000 study predicted that the economic growth experienced at that time would not…