Teen pregnancy has been a drain and a scourge on society for a number of generations. It is tapering off in many to most areas but the impacts to teenagers that become pregnant long before they should, and for a number of reasons, causes a lot of burdens on the expectant mothers, their fellow parents and the wider society. The class text clearly ascribes to the idea that sociology and the study thereof should be used to effect positive change and that it should be based on critical thinking and analysis. Using these tools and this logic, it is clear what must be done to drive teen pregnancy even lower, especially in high-risk groups (Leon-Guerrero, 2013).
There are two major issues surrounding pregnancy that can put people in peril and that is having children too young and having children that the parent(s) cannot support. Both of these dynamics are much more prevalent in teenage pregnancy than in any other situation. Abortion may see to be the easy out but internal and societal pressures, often emanating from religion, makes abortion an unattractive option for a number of reasons. Indeed, many people crave infant children to adopt but the trauma and burden to the teen having a child entirely too young is still pressing and ongoing even in the best of circumstances.
One major cause and issue at hand as far as teen pregnancy goes is the lack of sexual education on the part of the parents and/or the educational construct. Teaching sexual education may seem like a no-brainier to some but others object with great fervor because they want no part of their children being sexually active and they feel that this alone should bear the burden of keeping a teenager from becoming pregnant. However, a flat-out ban and no context of what to do if/when sex does occur during pregnancy can lead to a teenager becoming pregnant or getting a sexually transmitted disease. Parents not doing their job and educators not being able to reinforce why contraception is important if sex is engaged in can lead to teen pregnancy.
As far as the historical context of teen pregnancy and its associated factors, the last thirty to fifty years has included several major trends and events. The author of this report would even go back a little further and start with the 1950's. In the 1950's, the United States societal construct and its viewpoint towards teenage sex was stringently conservative and religious in nature as prayer was still present in schools and there was little to no accepted contradiction or opposition to that. The 1960's represented two major shifts in that there was a quite noticeable liberal shift in terms of attitudes regarding not just the war in Vietnam and its associated factors but also towards "free love" and sex in general.
The 1970's, the latter half of it in particular, represented a downward trend in the national birth rate and this was due in large part because of the economic morass that occurred in the 1970's and 1980's not to mention the strong emergence of HIV and AIDS. The late 1980's and 1990's represented yet another societal shift where teenagers started to be sexualized and a lot of this manifested itself in musical and other entertainment acts that were specifically marketed to teenagers or even pre-pubescent teens. Things have only gotten worse since then with the recent travails of ex-Disney or ex-child stars in general like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus. Their "issues" run the gamut from mental illness, children being in chaotic situations, sexualizing of children/teenagers at a very young age or a combination of the three. This overall trend may seem harmless to some but it can tend to lead and influence teens to mimic and imitate what they see if they are not given the proper context and potential real-world consequences that can result from sex that occurs too early and/or without the proper precautions.
In short, teenagers are bombarded every day by sex and its associated imagery and vernacular and this can lead to very poor choices regarding sex that can thus lead to pregnancy. A teenager having a child is a bit of a double-whammy in that it inhibits the child's educational prospects (assuming it does not halt them entirely) and teenagers are rarely possessing of the earning power and resources to raise a child on their own without governmental or family assistance (ABC, 2013).
As such, it is imperative that proper sexual education be parlayed to children. Some parents may bristle but it is important to give them the context of what it should mean and what one should do if/when they engage in sex either during or after the teenage years. Parents have to understand that taking a hard line and not allowing schools to give this message can lead to a very awkward conversation and admission later on. Even if such a happenstance is rare, it can be devastating and life-changing for years to come (if not for life) even in the best of circumstances as there is no "clean exit" once the baby is on the way and that easily includes adoption and abortion, right or wrong (Wing, 2013).
Another thing that just needs to be said is that not even Christians typically follow their own rules as dictated in the Bible and ostensibly enforced in the church. A plurality of Americans feel strongly that pre-marital sex is not all that big a deal and given that this is a majority-Christian nation, it is clear that there is a disconnect between what the scripture supposedly mandates and what is actually happening in real-world practice (Graham, 2012). Surely, parents who live apart and/or are not married but still have children leads to challenges and effects and it is usually best for a child to have a male and female influence in their life (although alternative/non-traditional living arrangements can work just fine as well). The problem is that teenagers are too young or too ill-prepared to be married and that changes the entire discussion. No sane person would argue that teenagers should be able to have children with no limitations and the reasons are mountainous. However, presuming that teens won't have sex is ignorant to say the least. At least the possibility should be explained and communicated to the teens and giving the information will likely lead them to either not engage in sex to begin with or at least do it safely. As long as it is one or the other of those two, that is better than leaving them in the dark and allowing them to make mistakes out of ignorance or impulsivity.
Something schools should not get into is the morality/religion game and that applies across the board. School educators should in no way pimp a religion or its associated moral code but the same should be said of doing the opposite and that is actively deriding and criticizing people that are religious as it relates to sex because that is completely unnecessary, is incendiary and does no good in the end. The basic premise that should be followed as far as teaching teens about sex is to say that sex, if engaged in during the teenage years, should only occur after the legal age of consent in the applicable state and that if it occurs, proper birth control or other contraception methods should be used to prevent unwanted children and/or spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Topics that should be avoided like the plague are abortion, adoption and religion because it is not necessary to bring up those topics to make the proper points. Schools should be non-religious in their methods but they should not be amoral. It should be absolutely be communicated that having children that cannot or will not be supported is morally wrong and causes a burden on the family members, tax dollars or other sources that have to fill a void that an unmarried teen parent with little to no support from the "father" can typically provide. However, if/when teen pregnancy happens (posed as a hypothetical to the students), it is imperative that the students at least finish high school (even if the GED route is needed) and they should try to go to college unless they can make a good living without it, which can happen. In general, students should be told in no uncertain terms that having a child at all at any point before the age of 21 and before being married (or at least in a strongly committed relationship) is a very bad idea and should not happen as waiting a few more years will make the path to parenthood much more easy.
Teen sex and pregnancy is one of those topics that can send parents off the deep end and can make teenage learners squirm. However, it is important to educate children and parents properly because not doing so can be a recipe for disaster. It is less…