Families: Teenage Pregnancy
One social problem associated with the family is teen pregnancy. Teen pregnancy rates have fallen in recent years; “The birth rate for U.S. teenagers aged 15-19 fell 8% from 2014 to 2015, to 22.3 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19, falling below the record low set in 2014. The rate for this group has declined 46% since 2007 and 64% since 1991.” (Hamilton 2016). However, the percentage of women age 15-19 in the US is still higher than all industrialized nations in the world (Shah 2014). “Rates are higher among black and Hispanic teens, with 4 in 10 becoming pregnant by 20 years of age, as compared with 2 in 10 white teens” (Secura et. al. 2014)
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Individuals affected by teen pregnancy include the parents of the child, as well as the child. According to (Shah 2014) the child is susceptible to low birth weight and premature birth. Those two factors are important for the health and growth of the child (Shah 2014). Fathers are also much more likely to be shut out of raising the child because they are unable to support the child financially (Furstenberg 2016). The children are also more likely to be less successful themselves in school (Secura et. al. 2014). There is also an impact on the economy. Teen pregnancy accounts for close to $10 billion in healthcare costs (Shah 2014). For the teen mothers and fathers, they are at risk of not completing high school at much higher rates (Shah 2014).
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers teenage pregnancy a winnable battle, and the goal of the CDC is to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate by 20% (Secura et. al. 2014). Currently, policies in place to help reduce to teen pregnancy are directed through the public education system. In 2010 President Barak Obama started the teen pregnancy prevention initiative (Schalet 2014). The change in this policy from previous policies, is that it no longer required abstinence only education. This policy called for evidence based information to be taught (Schalet 2014). Abstinence only education has been shown to not be effective in delaying sexual activity (Schalet 2014). It can also withhold important information on STD’s, risky sexual behavior, and the use of contraception (Schalet 2014). There are also issues with evidence based education in that it tends to be more broad, and does not include complex factors like race, income inequality, and gender differences (Schalet 2014).
One specific program aimed at reducing teen pregnancy is called Positive Prevention Plus. The program is funded by the Office if Adolescent Health, and the program teaches both abstinence, communication, and birth control. While the program has not seen significant improvements in teen pregnancy, it has shown improvements in delaying sexual activity. It has also shown improvements in teens using birth control (LaChausse 2016).
According to research by Secura et. al. one of the most effective ways to avoid teen pregnancy is long-acting reversible contraception. The issues with long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) are access and cost. “Only 5% of teens reported using LARC methods” (Secura et. al. 2014). In a study of LARC methods and those that used them “The observed rates of pregnancy, birth, and abortion were substantially lower than national rates among all U.S. teens, particularly when compared with sexually experienced U.S. teens” (Secura et. al. 2014)
Shah, M. K., Gee, R. E., & Theall, K. P. (2014). Partner support and impact on birth outcomes among teen pregnancies in the United States. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 27(1), 14-19. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpag.2013.08.002
Secura, Gina M., Madden, Tessa, McNicholas, Colleen, Mullersman, Jennifer, Buckel, Christina M., Zhao, Qiuhong, Peipert, Jeffrey F. (2014) Provision of No-Cost, Long-Acting Contraception and Teenage Pregnancy. New England Journal of Medicine, 14, 1316-1323, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1400506 New England Journal of Medicine October 2, 2014 371(14):1316
Furstenberg, F. (2016). Reconsidering Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood. Societies, 6(4), 33. http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4698/6/4/33/htm
LaChausse, R. G. (2016). A Clustered Randomized Controlled Trial of the Positive Prevention PLUS Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program. American Journal of Public Health, 106(Suppl 1), S91-S96. http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303414
Hamilton, B. E., & Mathews, T. J. (2016). Continued declines in teen births in the United States, 2015. NCHS data brief, 259, 1-8.
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