Causes of teenage pregnancy: how to keep teenage girls from the maternity ward
In recent times, activists and world leaders have been working to tackle the causes of teenage pregnancy. The focus has been on preventing unintended pregnancy during the adolescence and teenage years. Adolescence pregnancy isn’t just about one girl or one family; it affects whole communities.
Teenage mothers are much more likely to drop out of school. They are also more likely to be forced into early marriages. This means that communities lose potential doctors, lawyers, engineers, writers and innovators.
A lot of research has been done on this topic. So far, experts have succeeded in identifying the primary causes of teenage pregnancy.
Causes of teenage pregnancy
• Lack of medically-accurate sex education
• Poor access to knowledge about sexual reproductive health and women’s rights
• Inadequate access to youth friendly guidance and counselling services
• Pressure to go into early marriage and to prove one’s fertility
• Sexual abuse
• Lack of education: out-of-school children are at a higher risk of getting pregnant.
Secondary factors that cause teenage pregnancy in developing countries
In developing countries like Nigeria, most teenage mothers (15-19 years) are in early or forced marriages. These teenagers lack access to contraception and are under pressure to produce children for their husbands.
Low parental income and lack of financial stability can expose female children to teenage pregnancies. When girls lack money for basic needs such as sanitary pads, food, clothes and books, predators are likely to take advantage of them.
Again, poor families are more likely to force their children into early marriages with older, richer men.
3) Lack of education
The girl’s level of education is another determining factor. Females who have acquired very little or poor quality education are at a higher risk of having teenage pregnancies. Girls who acquire a higher level of education are unlikely to become teenage mothers.
Effects of unintended pregnancies on young girls
• The end of schooling or any form of formal education
• A life of lack and poverty
• Limited opportunities for employment
Sadly, misinformed teenagers often see marriage as an opportunity to get out of dysfunctional families or poor educational systems. This is one of the major causes of teenage pregnancy.
4) Sexual violence
Sexual violence is a serious problem in the world today. Most teenage pregnancies occur as a result of rape and sexual assault.
Nigeria seems to have a problem with child sexual abuse. The statistics are alarming. The culture of silence and victim-shaming is also a problem. The rate of teenage pregnancy is likely to increase except the government begins to deal decisively with sexual violence.
5) Poor access to comprehensive sex education and contraception
For most teenagers, sex is a mystery, a joke, a thing someone else expects him/her to do. Most young people lack medically accurate knowledge about sexual reproductive health. This curiosity mixed with ignorance is one if the causes of teenage pregnancy all over the world.
In Finland, children receive early sex education. Research studies showed that Finnish youths delayed sexual experiences because they were well-informed. What’s more, rates of sexual violence are also very low in Finland.
In Nigeria, sex is whispered in hushed tones, and as a result, many children don’t get sex education at all.
How to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy
1) Provide medically accurate sex education
Government should mandate schools to provide comprehensive sex education in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
When young people have medically-accurate sex education, they are more likely to:
• Avoid sexually risky situations
• Report perpetuators of sexual violence
• Understand the rules of consent and resistance
• Change their views of sexuality and power
• Value themselves and their bodies.
The benefits of early sex education are numerous. Once it becomes a norm, then one of the causes of teenage pregnancy would have been effectively dealt with.
2) Increased access to guidance and counselling units for youths
Governmental and non-governmental agencies can set up youth-friendly guidance and counselling units in communities.
This will help deal with teen angst. Research has already shown that teen angst can drive teens to risky behavior. A counselling unit can help to educate misinformed youth. If permitted, these guidance units can also provide mediation services for at-risk teenage girls and their families.
3) Organizing abstinence-only campaigns
Young people should know that abstinence is the only way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections like HIV.
These campaigns shouldn’t simply list the causes of teenage pregnancy. They should also provide tips and strategies on abstaining from sex. The activists should talk about peer pressure and discuss tips on staying chaste.
4) Increasing access to affordable family planning
As controversial as it sounds, birth control is an important option. To effectively curb teen pregnancy, parents must go beyond preaching abstinence. In fact, one study revealed that abstinence only doesn’t work for some teenagers. In such a case, parents and healthcare providers can educate these young people in the available birth control options.
Approximate 50% of teenage pregnancies in Nigeria are unintended. This means that a lot has to be done to reduce the rate of teen pregnancies. One of the ways to deal with this problem is tackling the causes of teenage pregnancy.