Pregnant teens are less likely to complete high school and attend college than teenagers who avoid pregnancy. Many teenage parents live below the poverty level and rely on welfare. The children of teenage parents receive inadequate medical care, have more problems in school, and spend more time in prison than children of adult parents. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (NCPTP) claims that teenage childbearing costs society about $6.9 billion annually; this estimate includes welfare and food stamp benefits, medical care expenses, lost tax revenue (teenage childbearing affects the parents’ work patterns), incarceration expenses, and foster care. In an effort to reduce teenage pregnancy and the problems associated with it, policymakers have recently focused on what causes the widespread poverty and welfare dependence that teen moms experience and have attempted to devise solutions to these problems. Some social critics argue that because ...view middle of the document...
The teenage marriage rate has declined in recent decades, leaving many young mothers without a husband’s financial support. Although the teenage pregnancy rate in the 1950s and 1960s was higher than today, the teenage marriage rate was also higher; in 1960 the percentage of unmarried teenage births was 15 percent, compared with 75 percent today. Many social commentators argue that the decline in teenage marriage has contributed to the rise in poverty and welfare dependence of single mothers. According to scholar Patrick F. Fagan, “The major change in teen pregnancy is not the numbers or rates of teen pregnancy, but the massive abandonment of marriage. . . . Having a baby out of wedlock is the major way to derail progress towards a future stable family life with its attendant more comfortable domestic economy.” Fagan and others maintain that without the bonds of marriage to hold couples together, many young fathers abandon young mothers and their children to poverty and welfare dependence.
Other social critics argue that poverty and adverse life circumstances foster teenage pregnancy, rather than result from it. Data from the American Academy of Pediatrics reveal that about 83 percent of adolescents who give birth and 61 percent who have abortions come from poor or low income families. According to Professor Michael A. Carrera,
Unfortunately, many teen males and females do not have the good fortune of living in [stable family] situations and do not see much of a future for themselves. Most young people see little employment opportunity around them and will probably face a life of low economic status, ever-present racism, and inadequate opportunities for quality education. . . . Under such conditions, it is no wonder that some young people, instead of becoming industrious and hopeful, become sexually intimate for a short-term sense of comfort, and ultimately become profoundly fatalistic.
These teenagers perceive few opportunities to achieve better circumstances than they were raised in; therefore, they are less inspired to avoid pregnancy and childbearing than teens from more affluent backgrounds.
Source: Teenage Pregnancy, ©2002-10 Gale Cengage. All Rights Reserved. Full copyright.