Teen Pregnancy and Education

From UBC Wiki

Teenage Pregnancy

Teenage pregnancy occurs when young women between the ages of 13 and 19 engage in sexual activity that results in a pregnancy. These young women face extraordinary challenges with such an early pregnancy. In the West, the teenage years are presumed to be developmental and prepatory for future life phases. The majority of girls this age have not yet completed their high school education, and are only starting to develop their marketable skills. Often, girls this age are still financially dependent on their parents, which poses particular challenges to being able to move through a pregnancy and raise a child successfully.Further, during the teenage years, girls are often more emotionally and mentally immature than their counterparts who become mothers in their latter years. [1]

Teenage Pregnancy and Education Stop Motion Project

Teenage Pregnancy and Education

Teenage Pregnancy Statistics

It has been reported that approximately 30% of girls in the United States of America will become pregnant before the age of 20. That is equal to roughly 750,000 pregnancies per year. Out of those 750,000 teenage pregnancies, 25% will have a second child within the first two years of their first child. Of these teenage pregnancies, a sizeable 80% of teen dads do not marry the mother of their child. [2] That is a large proportion of unmarried teenage mothers, many of whom will go on to raise their child alone. A vast majority of teenagers are uneducated about safe sex and their contraceptive options. A sexually active teenager who does not use contraceptives has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within one year. [2] Statistics show that there are also many longterm affects on both the daughters and sons of teenage pregnancies. First, the daughters of teenage mothers are 3 times more likely to become teen moms themselves. Second, the sons of teen moms are twice as likely to become incarcerated at some point in their lives. [3]

Candies foundation ad to prevent teenage pregnancy featuring Carly Rae Jepsen


Unfortunately, if not taken care of properly teenage mothers are at increased risks during pregnancy and childbirth than their counterparts who have children at a later time in life. Teenage mothers are often more likely to have dietary deficiencies and anaemia, emotional trauma during and after pregnancy, and consequences of lifestyle behaviours including alcohol and drugs. Further, babies and children of teenage mothers often suffer with higher health risks as well, including: lower than average birth weight, increased likelihood of premature birth, higher infant mortality rates, and more physical and mental disabilities. With support, teenage mothers can become extremely educated on nutritional requirements, handling emotional trauma, and managing the proper lifestyle. With proper education and support from loved ones, teenage parents have full potential to be extraordinary parents and raise a healthy, happy baby.

Understanding the Reasoning Behind Teenage Pregnancy

There are countless reasons why teenage girls between the ages of 13 to 19 become pregnant. Some teenagers feel prepared and ready to have a child, but more often than not, teenage pregnancy is unplanned and unexpected. Some of the reasons below explain the how and whys of teenage pregnancy, including but not limited to:

Peer Pressure

Many teenagers report that they became sexually active in an attempt to fit in with their peers. Although teenagers may want to seem cool and make friends, sometimes they are not fully educated on the consequences that will follow their actions. Approximately 29% of pregnant teenagers say that they felt pressured to have sex, and more than 33% admitted that they did not feel ready or prepared for a sexual relationship, but they feared rejection or ridicule. [4] Being a teenager is increasingly stressful and a high percentage of youth today struggle with confidence and self-esteem issues, which can lead to making questionable decisions solely to fit in. Teenagers deserve reassurance that their opinions matter, and that maintaining their individuality, opinions and confidence is crucial for future development.

Absent Parents

Children rely greatly on their parents or guardians to teach them the values and morals that will carry them throughout their lifetime. Parental guide and support teach children the wrongs and rights of daily life, and in turn teach them the challenges of decision making. When parents are absent or are extremely busy, teenagers are more likely to engage in risky behaviour, without being fully educated. This includes drugs, alcohol, and sexual behaviour. When teenagers are lacking parental guidance, they are more likely to rebel and make decisions to unsafely engage in sexual activity which leads to teenage pregnancy. [4] In order for teenagers with absent parents to not fall into the absent parent cycle, they need the education and support to succeed. Teenage parents have the full potential to be loving, determined, and extraordinary parents if they are given the continuous support, guidance and education that they deserve.


Television, movies and internet have a very large impact on the decisions and actions of teenagers. When media displays reckless sexual acts and sexual exploitation it can lead to teenagers engaging in unsafe sexual activity without being fully educated. Movies and television shows often glamorize pregnancy, and make it seem as though sex is a necessary way to gain social acceptance. [4] For example, TV shows such as "16 and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom", can be viewed as very controversial. Some would argue that these shows are a negative influence on the decision making of young teenagers who are not yet fully emotionally mature or aware of the ongoing consequences of their actions. Others may disagree and view these shows as a positive influence on the education and real life trials and tribulations of teenage mothers. These shows also do well in giving information to teenagers on where they can go, and who they can talk to if they are interested in gaining more information, or if they have any questions regarding their sexuality. If youth are properly taught sex education, rather than only having the false representation of what they see and hear from peers and media, then they may be able to make more educated decisions about their sexual activity.


Teenagers who are uneducated about sex are more likely to engage in unprotected sex, and have an unintended, unplanned, or unwanted pregnancy. Lack of experience, resources or information can lead people to make decisions that are risky and unsafe, because they may not be fully aware of the possible outcomes (such as pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections). Furthermore, many people, not only teenagers, do not fully recognize that engaging in sexual activity can affect all aspects of human nature, such as biological, emotional, and physical. [4]


Unfortunately, not all teenage pregnancies are consensual. It is estimated that somewhere between 43-62% of teens were impregnated by an adult male as old as 27 and approximately 5% of all teenage births are the result of rape. [4] These are very sad statistics that in no way reflect the teenage girls that are impacted by abusive relationships and rape.Teenagers that become pregnant through abusive relationships and rape need continual support, in order to be able to give their child the best life possible and to have peace of mind themselves. Being raped has long-lasting consequences and can cause post traumatic stress, as well as other mental illnesses. As devastating and repulsive as rape is, it is a teenage pregnancy statistic that needs to be recognized.


A great deal of teenagers are in an experimental stage of their lives. Some teenagers experiment with alcohol and drugs, which can lead to a lack of impulse control and loss of the ability to make coherent decisions. Underage drinking leads to a soaring 75% of teenage pregnancies, and 91% of pregnant teenagers that drank did not plan to engage in sexual activity when they conceived. [4] Youth need education on drugs and alcohol in order to make the best decisions for themselves and to have full awareness of the effects alcohol and drugs can have if not controlled safely.

Teenage Pregnancy and Education

Teenage pregnancy is the number one leading reason that teenage girls between the ages of 13-19 drop out of school. More than 50% of teenage mothers never graduate from high school, and less than 2% of teenage mothers earn a college degree by the time they reach 30 years of age. [2] Unfortunately, it is true that a female lacking education will have less career opportunities and fewer marketable skills in their lifetime. [5] The relationship between education and teenage pregnancy shows a strong correlation, and it is multidirectional. Teenagers who become pregnant are more likely to drop out of school, and teenagers who drop out of school are more likely to become pregnant. [6] I believe it is extremely important to emphasize the impact educational planning and goals can have on changing the lives of young women. When teenage girls focus their attention on planning for their future and they make goals to attend a college or university, it reduces the likelihood of teenage pregnancies. [6] Often it can be difficult for teenage mothers to excel in their education because they need to take a great deal of time off in order to go through pregnancy, childbirth, recovery and childcare. Teenage mothers have a greater chance than older mothers to live a lifetime in lower-class with low income levels. This is due to the fact that a lack of education, more often than not, leads to minimum wage paying jobs. It is also extremely important to note that being educated counters the negative effects of teenage pregnancy. [7] It is important to give teenage girls around the world a better future, and in order to do this resources need to be made available and educational options need to be presented. Many teenage mothers and fathers report that they feel a lack of resources and support in their educational environment and at home. If resources are readily available to all teenage parents, then the educational goals may be attainable - which could break some of the negative statistics and stereotypes associated with teenage pregnancy. [8] Teenage pregnancy is never a reason for exclusion for education. It should be a primary goal to try and encourage teenage mothers to stay in school, and learning. This could greatly increase the future of teenage mothers, while providing them with the support and knowledge for the next phases of their life. To improve the housing and education for teenage parents, could greatly increase the health, social, and employment outcomes for the teenage parents as well as their child.

Male Perspective

Pregnancy prevention campaign ad featuring pregnant male in Chicago, one of the states with the highest teen pregnancy rate

Most often the male parent involved in a teenage pregnancy is underrepresented, in the media and in terms of resources, especially when compared to women. Considering that based on a recent survey, an estimated nine percent — or 900,000 — of young men between the ages of 12 and 16 will become fathers before their twentieth birthday, [9] this leave a lot of adolescent males without education, prevention, or paternity care. Aligning with the lack of education, prevention, and paternity care, the risks factors for male involvement in teen pregnancy have not been wide investigated. [10] However, since the onset of the AIDS epidemic, reproductive health professionals have increasingly recognized the important role that supportive male partners can play in improving the use of contraception and in reducing the risk of unintended pregnancy and the spread of STIs. Today, a major focus of male reproductive health is on men's utilization of condoms, the one method of family planning that if used consistently and correctly, can greatly reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy and STIs, including HIV. [11] In regards to prevention, data from the National Survey on Family Growth show that boys are learning much more about protection from STDs than pregnancy prevention. Boys and girls were equally likely to talk with their parents about HIV/STDs, but only 62% of males reported receiving instruction on different methods of birth control. Additionally, According to the 2011 AAP clinical report, Male Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Care, 71% of male adolescents reported using a condom the first and most recent time they had sex, but only 48% report consistent use. [12] To further emphasize the high number of sexually active teen men, by age 19, 15% of males are still virgins, a low number when compared to the 85% of young men engaging in intercourse who would benefit from education, prevention, and paternity care. [13]

Young fathers also face a number of additional challenges as compared to the mother of the child born from teen parents. 8 out of 10 teen dads don’t marry the mother of their child, [14] meaning majority of teen parenting is done separately between the mother and father. An unmarried father has rights and responsibilities concerning custody, visitation, and child support. However, an unmarried father needs to take legal action to obtain these rights and responsibilities and must sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. [15] As most adolescents are still experiencing sporadic hormones which often influence the rationalization of their decision making skills, it is important for a mother and father to establish legal right to the child to protect both the mother, father, and baby. Establishing Paternity Establishment of paternity--legal recognition as the child’s father—affirms the father's unique, important role in the child’s life and helps him exercise his parental rights and responsibilities. It provides the child with a more complete medical history and sometimes gives access to financial benefits like Social Security. Paternity is usually established after birth, through a DNA test or a legal document called the Acknowledgment of Paternity. A father who is married to or recently divorced from the child’s mother, might not need to establish paternity, reports the American Pregnancy Association. [16]

The media also has a way of dimming the light on teen dads, or giving them significantly less recognition in comparison to their counterpart. Popular MTV reality show Teen Mom highlights the lives of four young moms, where as the show only incorporates the dads in a fractional amount of the air time. While the series of Teen Mom has 75 episodes, there is only one episode exclusively dedicated to the fathers, a special called: Being Dad

A Chicago campaign to prevent teen pregnancy took an alternative approach to grabbing an audiences attention, by putting young males on the campaign ads instead of women. This highlights how when a young girl gets pregnant, she is not the only one who suffers. Young men and women should be equally responsible, and therefore should be equally equipped to do so when choosing to engage in sexual intercourse that may result in a teen pregnancy.


  1. Teenage Pregnancy. (n.d.) McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. (2002) Retrieved February 10 2015 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Teenage+Pregnancy
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Do Something.Young People+Social Change. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-teen-pregnancy
  3. Shocking Facts on Teenage Pregnancy. (2008) Retrieved February 2 2015 from http://www.omgfacts.com/lists/9351/The-10-most-shocking-facts-on-Teen-Pregnancy
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 LIVESTRONG. What Are The Causes of Teenage Pregnancy? R. Y. Langham, Ph.D. (2015). http://www.livestrong.com/article/146681-what-are-the-causes-of-teenage-pregnancy/
  5. Adolescent Pregnancy. World Health Organization. (2014) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs364/en/
  6. 6.0 6.1 Teenage Pregnancy and Education. Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. http://misacor-usa.org/index.php/teenage-pregnancy-and-education
  7. Life After Teenage Motherhood, May Luong. Statistics Canada. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-001-x/2008105/article/10577-eng.htm
  8. Teenage Parents and Their Educational Attainment. Texas Comprehensive Center. (2005) http://txcc.sedl.org/resources/briefs/number5/
  9. http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-health-topics/reproductive-health/teen-pregnancy/engaging-males.html
  10. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/107/2/e19.full
  11. http://recapp.etr.org/recapp/index.cfm?fuseaction=pages.TheoriesDetail&PageID=315
  12. http://www.aappublications.org/content/34/9/17.1
  13. http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-health-topics/reproductive-health/teen-pregnancy/engaging-males.html
  14. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-teen-dads
  15. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-teen-dads
  16. http://www.livestrong.com/article/192030-fathers-rights-in-teen-pregnancy/#sthash.3GmQuDh0.dpuf