Teen pregnancy is everyone's problem
Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2003,
Teen pregnancy should be a major concern throughout the United States, which ranks tops among industrialized nations in the incidence of girls getting pregnant prior to their 20th birthday. And it should be a major concern in Fayette County, where the teen pregnancy rate is slightly worse than the statewide average.
Teen pregnancy should concern us all because of the profound impact it has on the lives of countless young women and the cumulative effect it has on society.
According to figures provided by the Family Health Council, which has marked May as National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, teenage girls who become pregnant are less likely to complete their high school education (depriving themselves of a chance at post-secondary training) and more likely to be single mothers.
Teen pregnancy is a trend that has been costly to society.
According to the Family Health Council, half of all teen mothers (and more than 75 percent of unmarried teen mothers) begin receiving welfare within five years of the birth of their first child. Annually, the federal government spends approximately $40 billion to help families that began with a teen birth.
Not forgotten are the children born to teenage mothers. What chance do they have at a solid family life and future personal success when their mothers are, themselves, children?
Parenthood requires maturation and an understanding of responsibility. It is an incredible task for adults who've planned on having children. That difficulty is enormous when applied to teenagers. Without question, the problem of teen pregnancy - in Fayette County, Pennsylvania and across the country - is one that must be quelled.
Solving the problem begins with education, in our schools and at home. Parents must stake a claim to their children's future by talking to their daughters (and sons, too) about the consequences of pregnancy. They must impress upon their children that becoming pregnant as a teen (and getting someone pregnant as a teen) is an irresponsible act. Our schools, through guidance offices and health education classes, need to let students know in no uncertain terms that sex is not a recreational activity that is an accepted part of growing up. That should be instilled in children (in schools and in the home) before they reach the point of being sexually active.
Abstinence is the best way to combat the teen pregnancy rates. But none of us are so naive to believe that suggestion would be well received by most teens. So at the same time, youngsters must be educated on the use and access of contraception. It is foolhardy to believe that teen pregnancy rates will decline substantially without treating contraception as a viable option to teens.
There are countless resources available to parents that will help them educate their children. The Family Health Council has offices in Uniontown (724-437-1582) that can direct parents to programs that will help them talk to children about their sexuality. Others are aimed at helping teens make healthy lifestyle choices, including pregnancy prevention programs.
Teen pregnancy changes the courses of the lives of many young women, more often than not bringing on them struggles they are not equipped to handle, and imparting the same struggles on a new generation of children. But it's also a problem that impacts our society as a whole, and we must do our utmost to combat it.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.