Table of Contents
Teenage pregnancy is one of the leading socio-economic problems in countries across the globe due to the high number of teenagers who get pregnant. According to recent statistics by World Health Organization (WHO) (2020), around 21 million girls between the ages of 15 and19 get pregnant and 12 million give birth annually in developing countries. Developing countries are not an exclusion as they face a similar problem. For instance, despite a significant decline in teenage pregnancy in recent decades, an estimated teen birth rate is currently at 16.9 per 1, 000 teenagers in the US as per the year 2019 statistics (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). Teenage pregnancy is attributable to various factors namely a lack of proper sex education, a lack of access to contraceptives, a lack of awareness of teenage pregnancy, poverty, and illiteracy among teenagers. This problem is associated with numerous challenges including high rates of school dropouts, limited life chances for girls, health problems, and poverty as one struggles to raise the child. In this regard, this paper discusses sex education, contraceptives, and the development of moral standards as effective long-term strategies for preventing teenage pregnancy.
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Strategies for Preventing Teenage Pregnancy
Comprehensive sex education will equip teenagers – boys and girls – to make informed decisions regarding sexual activities that lead to pregnancy. A comprehensive sex education constitutes equipping teenagers with information regarding abstinence and the use of contraceptives. A considerably large percentage of teenagers are not well-informed on appropriate sexual behaviors especially when they reach adolescence and become sexually active (Hadley, 2018). Without appropriate knowledge, the physical and hormonal changes that are taking place in their bodies often mislead them to engage in risky sexual behaviors, which put them at increased risk of getting pregnant. In this regard, parents at home, teachers at school, and even leaders in religious institutions must actively engage in sex education – reproductive health – for teenagers to equip them with appropriate knowledge to make decisions regarding sexual activities. Schools should include sex education in the curriculum to ensure that learners in elementary schools are equipped with accurate information about sex to promote effective decision-making regarding it. At home, parents should also openly discuss sex with their children and teach them healthy choices regarding sex to inculcate moral choices, and abstinence, in particular. Teaching teens about their bodies and sex encourage morally upright behaviors such as avoiding risky sexual behaviors and embracing abstinence until marriage.
On top of this, sex education on contraceptives is important as it helps teenagers engage in safe sex. Despite the efforts to promote abstinence until marriage, the current permissive society due to advancement in society exposes teenagers to morally corrupting multimedia content that raises their curiosity to engage in sexual intercourse (Sawhill & Guyot, 2019). In this regard, teachers and parents need to be more pragmatic about this problem and teach teenagers about safe sex, and the use of protection (condoms), in particular. The use of protection during sex is an effective method of preventing pregnancy since it prevents the fertilization of the ovum if used correctly. In addition to this, informing teenagers on family planning such as long-term acting reversible contraception and hormonal contraception is effective in preventing teen pregnancy. Further, the government and healthcare providers should make contraceptives readily available to enable teenagers to easily access them. Therefore, teenagers should be taught about the appropriate use of contraception as an intervention for teen pregnancy.
Implementation of Youth Social Programs
Youth social programs prevent teenage pregnancies by delaying one’s sexual activities in the involved age bracket. One of the main causes of high rates of teenage pregnancy is the early onset of sexual activities among boys and girls within this age bracket (Nabugoomu, Seruwagi, & Hanning, 2020). Therefore, an effective way to prevent this is to delay sexual activities among them as much as possible. In this regard, youth development programs are aimed at engaging the youth in social development or social mobility activities. Activities such as career choice education, sports, drug abuse avoidance, and other self-development activities are useful in fully engaging the youth in useful activities that prevent them from idleness that contributes to alcoholism, drug abuse, and subsequent risky sexual behaviors that lead to teenage pregnancy. In this regard, it suffices to state that the implementation of social development programs will reduce teenage pregnancy.
High rates of teenage pregnancy are a global problem that is imputable to a lack of information among teenagers. Many sexually active teens are not equipped with accurate information on sexual choices, therefore, they are susceptible to teenage pregnancy, which can lead to adverse prospects. In this regard, effective interventions such as sex education and social youth programs will significantly reduce and eventually prevent teenage pregnancy. Sex education is associated with benefits such as equipping teens with accurate information and skills to make healthy choices regarding sexual activities while youth social programs delay sexual activities by keeping teenagers engaged in beneficial activities. Therefore, it is recommended that sex education and social youth programs should be implemented to prevent teenage pregnancy.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). About teen pregnancy. From, https://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/about/index.htm#:~:text=The%20US%20teen%20bi rth%20rate,decrease%20of%204%25%20from%202018.
- Hadley, A. (2018). Teenage pregnancy: Strategies for prevention. Obstetrics, gynaecology & reproductive medicine, S1751721418300332–. doi:10.1016/j.ogrm.2018.02.003
- Nabugoomu, J., Seruwagi, G.K. & Hanning, R. (2020). What can be done to reduce the prevalence of teen pregnancy in rural Eastern Uganda? Multi-stakeholder perceptions. Reproductive Health, 17(134). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12978-020-00984-x
- Sawhill, I. V., & Guyot, K. (2019). Preventing unplanned pregnancy: Lessons from the states. Brookings Institution. From, https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Preventing-Unplanned-Pregnancy-2.pdf
- World Health Organization. (2020). Adolescent pregnancy. From, who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/adolescent-pregnancy