Teen Pregnancy has been an increasingly worrying issue with teens exposure to social media and the internet in itself, sexual content has never been more accessible as it is now. This leads Teenagers in today’s world to not only access sexual material but to engage in the acts being displayed to them and engaging in such activities at younger ages often has a higher risk of unwanted pregnancy. Teenage Pregnancy comes with a lot of different issues itself and can effect many facets of a teenagers life. From education, financially, emotionally and can severely impact relationships of friends, family members and partners. Programs for educating teens on the risks of unprotected sexual intercourse and prevention of teenage pregnancy have been becoming more and more common but are they doing enough? To asses this and to look at how they can be improved we first must look at what is teenage pregnancy, What programs are currently in place to reduce teen pregnancy, How effective have these current programs been and How could these programs be improv ed. Upon answering these questions I believe we can properly address the question how effective have current programs for teen pregnancy been and how could they be improved?
How effective have current programs for teen pregnancy been and how could they be improved? Well firstly what is Teenage Pregnancy? Teenage Pregnancy is when a woman under the age of 20 engages in sexual intercourse and falls pregnant either intentionally or unintentionally (UBC Wiki, 2020). Every year approximately 21 million girls a year ages 15-19 get pregnant in developing regions with approximately about 12 million of them giving birth (WHO, 2020). The exception to teenage pregnancy being an issue is that in some cultures it is tradition to marry at a young age and therefore get pregnant at a young age (UBC Wiki, 2020). This indicates that these types of relationships into teenage pregnancy are intentional however this mainly occurs in third world countries where a rise in teenage pregnancy has occurred due to a variety of different reasons. Other reasons teenage pregnancy can occur could be drugs or alcohol as they impair the brain making it unable to make logical decisions, this very often leads to unsafe sexual decisions to be made which leads to pregnancy (UBC Wiki, 2020). Family income and socio economic status is often a factor when it comes to teenage pregnancy as the teenagers involved will often be undereducated about the risks associated with sexual activity and proper protection use. These teenagers due to their lack of understanding often engage in sexual activity with multiple partners which will raise the risk of teenage pregnancy. Young teenage girls often feel peer pressured into engaging in unprotected sexual activity by older males leaving them more at risk for pregnancy but also sexual abuse. This can occur randomly as well as in relationships in which one partner can manipulate the other into having unprotected sexual intercourse whether they are comfortable with it or not, giving them reasoning such as its to “express their true feelings”. Sexual abuse has also been linked to a high rate of teenage pregnancies. Sexual abuse from a young age often leads young girls to fall pregnant to their predator as they often don’t seek out a trusted adult to inform about the situation as they are scared about the consequences. Predators are often close to the victim and sometimes even family and mostly don’t care if they get their victim pregnant. Ethically it is a poor decision for any teenager to decide to get pregnant as teenagers don’t have the level of education, money nor life experience to make it right to bring a child into the world as there is no way it could be taken care of properly. There are programs to prevent teenage pregnancy which would take away the need for a teenager to have to make such a decision as to whether to keep or part ways with a baby.
Governments around the world have been making a concerted effort to help fund programs that will aid in educating and preventing teenage pregnancies and to try and lower the staggering 21 million girls falling pregnant annually. The US Health and Human Services (HHS) has funded $100 million to states, non profit organisations, school districts and universities. $75 million has been allocated to programs showing successful results in reducing teen pregnancies, STI’s and other risky sexual behaviours. HHS’s Office of Adolescent Health as well as the CDC (Centres for Disease Control) partnered together and awarded $10 million to eight community wide projects that focus on these key points to reduce the rates of pregnancies and births to youth in the target areas, Increase youth access to evidence-based and evidence-informed programs to prevent teen pregnancy, Increase linkages between teen pregnancy prevention programs and community-based clinical services, Educate stakeholders about relevant evidence-based and evidence-informed strategies to reduce teen pregnancy and data on needs and resources in target communities (WHO, 2020). From 2009-2014 the teen birth rate in Colorado dropped by 48% due to state led initiatives known as the Colorado Family Planning Initiative which was a collaboration of state agencies, school boards, and non-profit organisations (Healthline, 2016). The fact that the US also has the highest rate of teen births in the world is a testament to the effectiveness of these types of programs and how much of a difference they can make in turning communities around. Ethically these programs are a great idea for communities, states or even countries to adapt as its their responsibility to provide their youth with the best opportunities and the best education on safe sex. As far as the right thing to do by teenagers the best prevention methods for teen pregnancy is to offer more chances for them to be educated on the matter. Now that we know what programs are out there assessing the effectiveness of these programs will give is a good indication of where and if they should be implemented. In certain areas in the world teens are more at risk to pregnancy which means certain programs would be more effective in different places.
How effective have the current programs been in reducing the number of teen births? It has been found that programs that focus on specific skills and take place over longer periods are more effective than shorter or more general programs. In order to analyse the effectiveness it’s important to look at the statistical trend of how many teenage girls get pregnant between the ages of 15-19. At the turn of the century Teenage pregnancy in Australia was reported to be at 18.1 per 1000 woman aged 15-19 (van der Klis et al., 2002). This was the lowest rate since 1921 compared to other countries just years earlier between 1996-1998 with reported rates for Canada being at 20.2 per 1000 women, 29.8 New Zealand and 51.1 in the United States (van der Klis et al., 2002). Countries such as the Netherlands and Sweden being at 4.1 and 7.8 with the lowest reported rate being Japan at 3.9 (van der Klis et al., 2002). From a 5 year period between 1970 and the end of 1974 there were 14,867 pregnant teenagers in South Australia compared to that rate dropping by almost 4% by the start of the 2000’s with numbers dropping to 10,977 (van der Klis et al., 2002).
We can assume that over this period of time there was a drop in numbers due to the development in technology and adoption procedures. Abortions were something that were first used in the US in 1979 and this was something that would help change how teenagers deal with pregnancy (Medical abortion, 2020). As for prevention education and knowledge about contraception has changed over time and from the time of 1970-2000 a lot had changed about the way sexual relations were viewed. From the 1960’s sexual education began being taught in schools in the US, however it wasn’t until the 1980’s when a discussion began in most developed countries about the specifics to do with pregnancy prevention amongst teenagers. Education for sexual health began in the US with two different views one being that providing teens with medically accurate information would discourage teens from risk taking behaviour. The latter of the views was one of abstinence and that informing teens of the possible protections or the safest way to go about sex would instead increase the likelihood of risky behaviour by teens (History of Sex Education in the U.S., 2016). It was found that the former being to produce medically comprehensive information to teens in order to decrease the chance of pregnancy is the most effective way to teach them about sexual safety. We can determine the current programs of teen pregnancy prevention are effective based on the decline in woman over the last 45 years aged 15-19 have decreased from 18.1 per 1000 women to in 2015 11 per 1000 woman (AIHW, 2018). It’s now time to look at how these numbers could decrease from 11 per 1000 woman in Australia to 0 (AIHW, 2018).
Current programs could be improved through manty different programs. A program I have thought of based on my research so far is to use technology and social media to communicate prevention and safety surrounding sexual intercourse. The plan I have for possible programs is in the future schools, communities or even state governments produce an application that teenagers can download onto their device that is essentially a program that rewards the teen for interacting with the content. The content is to include videos, graphs, gallery’s, journals and articles on safe sex and the risks associated with getting pregnant from a young age. It is to be engaging as well as a safe and reliable place for a teenager to go to when they have a question relating sexual health. Not only do I believe that teenagers would benefit from the convenience of such a program but adding incentives such as rewards would encourage more participation than forced school based programs that don’t peak the interest of its students at all. Content that would be included would be important information such as the best contraception methods and then a feature that shows the nearest places to purchase them. Features such as counsellors available 24/7 to call or live chat would be very useful for teens as so many risky situations teens enter themselves into happens due to lack of direction or knowledge. Below is a plan of what I believe the user interface should look like. Being that this is only a plan of what I think would be the best way to communicate sexual health with modern day teens there are going to be some improvements made. This method however is what I believe to be the best and ethically considerate way to approach teens about the issue.
To conclude, teenage pregnancy is when a teenager aged 19 or under becomes pregnant due to risky behaviour of unsafe sexual intercourse. This is an issue for many reasons as teenagers don’t have the emotional maturity or financial stability to safely and successfully raise a child. Other factors play into the ability to raise a child but those depend situationally for example socio economic standing, environment, country etc. However current programs have been effective as we have seen at reducing the impact and the sheer number of teenagers effected by teenage pregnancy. This is due in part to the government programs, community outreach programs, school based programs and more. However there is still work to be done on the issue of teen pregnancy and until the numbers are low enough to the point where it’s not an issue new innovative programs have to be introduced. The program I thought of after researching for this project was a way for current generations to actually get and access the information the older generations are attempting to teach them. I believe this is though technology as not only is it important to make it easily accessible it would also be the most convenient way for teens to gain this knowledge.