There is no doubt that teenage pregnancy is a problem. The lack of information and support for people to make an informed and healthy decision about their life contributes to the epidemic. Teenagers need access to information to make informed decisions regarding sex and to have the resources and support to deal with the outcomes of having sex. “All teenagers should practice abstinence, so they don’t have to worry about getting pregnant. However, if they choose to have sex, they should wear a condom every single time,” said Mr. Bertone, a health teacher at Westhill High School.
Around the world, approximately 77% of pregnancies are unplanned. The highest teen pregnancy rates in the world are in African countries. The top country in Africa is Niger with approximately 204 births per every 100,000 teenage women. In developing countries like Niger, baby mortality rates are higher. This is due to inadequate medical infrastructure and the risk of younger women having children.
According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), girls who are 14 or younger can suffer long-term health and social consequences from teenage pregnancies. On average, 70,000 teenagers die every year from complications during pregnancy in developing countries. Therefore, babies who are born to a mother who is under the age of 20 face a 50% higher risk of being stillborn or dying within the first few weeks of birth.
Even though teenage pregnancy is a larger issue in developing countries, it still is prevalent in developed ones. For example, in the United States, only ½ of teenage girls complete high school by the age of 22 if they become pregnant. This rate is significantly higher than the women who finish school in developing countries. Studies have proven that “abstinence-only” programs and sex education programs have significantly delayed the initiation of sex and increased use of a condoms.
However, many governments have shown that sex ed programs are too expensive. “They should stop using money on unimportant things every year so that they can help individuals receive the education and support they need to make an educated decision to have sex or to not,” said Stephanie Zachariadis (’17) about countries providing for the well-being of their citizens.
For this reason, teenage pregnancy should be looked at as an issue that’s in need of being addressed in both developing and developed nations around the world to secure a better future for children.