Teen Pregnancy And School Administration
School administrators and teachers are expected to be exemplary persons capable of delivering excellent results in virtually all spheres of their students’ lives. Such spheres include the inculcation of positive living skills as well as sound morals. These expectations are better summarized by Jacobson, Hickcox, & Stevenson (1996) in their opinion regarding the dilemmas facing educators. Precisely, they opine that:
“Parents, employers, and taxpayers want their schools to accomplish inherently competing purposes. They want teachers, for example, to socialize children into habits of mind and behavior essential for becoming a wise citizen, an able employee, and a person of solid character, while, at the same time, encouraging questioning, problem solving, and independence.” (p.5).
No doubt, these are absolutely high expectations that cannot be achieved by educators alone. As a matter of fact, this hands-off approach on the part of the community (parents, employers, and taxpayers) has only led to the rapid increase in unethical issues among school going children over the years. Teen pregnancy is one such unethical issue that continues to undermine the achievements of these expectations. As a young school administrator who will soon be entrusted with administrative, leadership, and educational responsibilities, I find this issue pertinent and indeed unethical when juxtaposed against the set professional obligations as well as the host of community expectations described above.
Teen pregnancy is the act of adolescent girls aged between thirteen and nineteen years getting pregnant, outside marriage contexts. On most occasions, this has been blamed on causal factors such as lack of proper education, high poverty levels, oppressive cultural beliefs, male chauvinism, media, and socio-economic instability. Yet, although its quite evident that teen pregnancy is prevalent in all societies regardless of levels of economic developments, statistics have clearly indicated that poor nations are more affected. Indeed, studies have shown that developing countries in Central and South America, Far East as well as sub-Saharan Africa experience high rates of teenage pregnancies (Gaudie, 2010). The discussions presented in this paper will argue that teen pregnancy is an unethical issue whose prevalence is primarily as a consequence of deficiencies in proper teenage education on sexual matters. Essentially, the paper posits that more effective education can help ameliorate the many negative effects this vice continue to present in the society.
Recent statistics show that the levels of teen pregnancy stands at a high of 18% of all teenagers of the world. But while indications would out at the pervasiveness of this vice across all societal divides, statistics are generally indicative of more occurrences in the less developed nations of the world. However, it is critical to note that the nations of US and UK top the list of countries with the greatest number of teen pregnancy cases. Interestingly, this happens at the backdrop of numerous socio-economic interventions put in place to curb the vice. The UK case for example, has the highest teen pregnancy rates in Europe, with girls aged 16 years being the most prevalent to the vice (Harden, Brunton, Fletcher & Oakley, 2009). Comparatively, the US teen pregnancy rate was more than 1.5 times that of the UK, and more than 2 times that of Canada in 2006. Again, it was more than 4.5 times that of Sweden and a whopping 10 times more than that of Japan (Holcombe, Peterson & Manlove, 2009). A nation-wide study carried out in 2007 indicated that majority of these pregnancies resulted in first time births with statistics indicating that only 16 percent of the total teen pregnancies were second time births. Conversely, three percent were second and third-time births (Holcombe et al, 2009). While these statistics are generally indicative of a grim state of affairs as regards teens at risk of having unwanted pregnancies, it cannot be disputed that proper interventions would go a long way towards a practical redress. A set of six trials carried out by Harden, et al (2009) for instance indicates that teen pregnancies reduced by 39 percent among teens who had been subjected to early interventions, compared to a 95 percent rate for teens that did not undergo any intervention at all or underwent an ordinary intervention.
Several factors have been attributed to teenage pregnancy prevalence. Based on the findings of a study carried out by Gaudie et al (2010), pregnancy cases among the teens is a product of the interplay between several factors which are given shape by the type of the family and society a teen comes from. For instance, it is true that exposing teens to social risks such as exclusion and deprivation of vital materials to some extent heightens the chances of them getting pregnant. In this regard, it has been advanced that girls who come from very poor backgrounds will be tempted to indulge in sexual intercourse for material gains (Hoffman, 2008; Holcombe et al, 2009). On the same note, girls who are brought up in violent and crime prone neighborhoods stand a higher risk of getting pregnant as a result of forced sexual intercourse. In a similar vein, girls from broken families or families that do not value family discussions and sharing of ideas will be most likely to get pregnant in their teen years due to insufficient knowledge on their sexualities. In addition, it has been advanced that girls from single parent families are most likely to bear children before they reach adulthood which has generally been attributed to the transfer of negative familial attributes (Gaudie et al, 2010). Conversely, teen girls from families with strong relationships between the mother and the father have a lower probability of getting pregnant in their teen years, an argument buttressed by a 2002 study findings which indicate that only 15 percent of teens from families with both parents got pregnant compared to 26 percent of teens from one parent families who got pregnant (Holcombe et al, 2009).
Teens who indulge too much in watching television programs discussing sexual matters may be tempted to try sexual intercourse at a very young age. Engaging in sexual intercourse at an early age increases the probability of becoming pregnant. It becomes worse when such teens also develop a laxity in using preventive measures when engaging in such sexual encounters. The argument here is two fold that, watching materials that have sexual messages on TV may lead in increased urge to indulge in sexual intercourse, or even discourage he use of contraceptives (Chandra et al, 2009).
The impacts of teen childbearing are dire to the education of both the mother as well as the kid. A general opinion is that teens that give birth while in school have got a less likelihood of graduating form high school (Fletcher & Wolfe, 2008). More precisely, children born of teen mothers are very prone to both academic and behavioral problems when they are in school. Such children are therefore less likely to complete school or even get passing grades for those who completes school. Again, it is a confirmed fact that when compared to women who give birth at a later time of their lives, teenage mothers find it difficult to finish school after giving birth (Holcombe et al, 2009), this is because in most cases teen mothers are forced to leave school and seek employment opportunities in bid to provide for their kids, as opposed to women who give birth at older age who have been noted to express the desire to further their education (Harden et al, 2009). Again, teen mothers may opt to dropout of school for fear of being the laughing stock of the school given the stigma that accompanies the vice among many societies (Hubbard, 2008).
Another very important aspect of education and teen pregnancy is that, girls born of mothers who did not go through high school education successfully are more likely to get pregnant than their colleagues with educated mothers (Holcombe et al, 2009). The reasons that children born of teen mothers may suffer from behavioral and academic problems is that they are highly exposed to dangers of low weight, retarded mental development, high blood pressure, and other health complications. This is so because teen mothers do not get quality prenatal care since most of them shy from attending clinics for fear of being reprimanded or even the clinics they attend do not offer teen-sensitive prenatal care (Hubbard, 2008). Again, due to the high stress levels as well as lack of parenting skills, children borne by teen mothers grow up with a general negative attitude toward life and in particular toward education (Chandra et al, 2009). Overall, the cumulative impact of teen pregnancy is poor lives in the future, as lack of proper education for both teen mothers and their children will make them less competitive in the job market. Given that children from poor families will most probably attend non-performing schools, will attend school at a late age, and that their probabilities of finishing school underscores this argument (Rosenthal et al, 2009).
Far many countries partake of educating their teens about their sexualities. However, teen pregnancies keep on increasing. In the US, for instance, the vice has been increasing despite the obvious efforts put in improving the socio-economic factors thought to be behind its increment. In Namibia, various advocacy groups led by UNICEF Namibia chapter have carried out extensive awareness about the ills of childbearing in underage but the trend seems to be unbridled, with only minimal progress being made (Hubbard, 2008). Given that majority of teens who get pregnant do so without planning; it can be argued that lack of proper knowledge regarding good sexual habits is the main cause (Harden et al, 2009).
In this regard, a proper intervention program that involves inculcating sexual education in school curricula as well as altering the factors that contribute to teen pregnancies will help to impart the necessary live skills to young girls (Rosenthal, et al, 2009). This argument is also buttressed by the fact that in 2007 only 19 percent of the total teen pregnancies were subsequent pregnancies, that is, second or third pregnancy (Holcombe et al, 2009), an indicator that after the first pregnancy teens gets to learn about best ways to avoid getting pregnant again.
Moreover, owing to the fact that sex education pegged on total abstinence has failed to address this menace, it is time that a more realistic and comprehensive approach be given a chance. As a matter of fact, reliable evidence shows that abstinence-only sex education has failed to end risky sexual behaviors, a thing that been noted to contribute heavily to teen pregnancy as well as spread of sexually transmitted diseases (Kohler, Manhart & Lafferty, 2007). Since it has been noted among the teens that abstaining completely from engaging in sexual behaviors is not an easy endeavor, advocacy should be enhanced to the teens that the use of contraceptives, more specifically barrier contraceptives is very crucial.
It is sad to note that despite the obvious consequences that underlie childbearing at underage, the rate of teens that get pregnant continues to soar every year, notwithstanding the apparent efforts that have been put in place to discourage the vice. As a matter of fact, if this trend that seemingly threatens to turn the female teenagers into a child bearing generation is to be addressed, then more purposive and realistic measures need to be taken. Given the challenges that come by being a mother, and a young one at that, teen childbearing is not only a burden to the younger mothers and to the society, but it is also an unethical thing. Again, owing to the fact that teen pregnancy negatively impacts the young mothers’ quest for good education and ultimately affects their future lives, the issue needs to be addressed.
For instance, basing on fact that most teen pregnancies are as a result of mutual sexual encounters, mitigation initiatives can be advanced in the form of realistic and purposive sexual education exercises right from elementary school. For example, young girls need to be taught about the real issues pertaining to their sexual lives and how best they can avoid falling prey to opportunistic males. This advancement is supported by the findings that, teen pregnancies do not just happen, but they are products of juvenile delinquent behaviors. Additionally, schools as well as other institutions that partake of shaping the lives of the young learners need to enforce behavior change programs so as to nip the vice in the bud. After all, it is a common knowledge that preventive rather than curing interventions have always delivered the best results.
Moreover, so as to make the fight against teen pregnancies a holistic one, then the purposive sexual education in schools advanced hereby should be supplemented with real-time efforts aimed at considerably reducing the causal-factors to underage childbearing. For instance, governments should work toward alleviating the high levels of poverty among their populace so as to empower the young girls and their families economically. They should also work on reducing the social stigma through which teen pregnancies are looked at. Purposive education that is built around causal-factors reduction measures such as provision of alternative avenues to accommodate and rehabilitate teens that have given birth instead of punishing them would be a positive step towards dealing with the issue.
Chandra, A., Martino, S.C., Collins, R.L., Elliot, M.N., Berry, S.H. &Kanouse, D.E., (2009). Does watching sex on television predict teen pregnancy? Findings from a national longitudinal survey of youth. America Academy of Pediatrics, 122(5), 1047-1054. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from: http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/122/5/1047/
Fletcher, J.M. & Wolfe, B.L. (2008). Education and labor market consequences of teenage childbearing: Evidence using the timing of pregnancy outcomes and community fixed effects. NBER Working Paper Series, 13847. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13847/
Gaudie, J., Mitrou, F., Lawrence, D., Stanley, F.J., Silburn, S.R. & Zubrick, S.R., (2010). Antecedents of teenage pregnancy from a 14-year follow-up study using data linkage. BMC Public Health 10:63.
Harden, A., Brunton, G., Fletcher, A., & Oakley, A. (2009). Teenage pregnancy and social disadvantage: Systematic review integrating controlled trials and qualitative studies. BMJ, 339:b4254.
Hoffman, S.D. (2008). Kids having kids: Economic costs & social consequences of teen pregnancy.
Holcombe, E., Peterson, K. & Manlove, J. (2009). Ten reasons to still keep the focus on teen childbearing. Child Trends. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from: http://www.childtrends.org/
Hubbard, D., (2008). Realizing the right to education for all: School policy on learner pregnancy in Namibia. Adapted from, “School Policy on Learner Pregnancy in Namibia: Background to Reform”, Ministry of Education, Legal Assistance Centre; Gender Research and Advocacy Project.
Jacobson, S.L, Hickcox, E.S., & Stevenson, R.B. (1996). School administration: persistent dilemmas in preparation and practice. Greenwood Publishing Group.
Kohler, P.K., Manhart, L.E. & Lafferty, W.E. (2007). Abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education and the initiation of sexual activity and teen pregnancy. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42, 344-351.
Rosenthal, M.S., Ross, J.S., Bilodeau, R.A., Ritcher, R.S. Palley, J.E. & Bradley, E.H. (2009). Economic evaluation of a comprehensive teenage pregnancy prevention program. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 37(6S1): S280-S287. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from: http://www.ajpm-online.net/
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