When I went to a grade 12 prom, I was very surprised to see a couple who were just celebrating their child’s second birthday, the mother being only a year older than me. This situation prompted me to want to do more research on teen pregnancy and why it happens. Teenage pregnancy is an issue in Canada and without intervention, it will cause harm to young girls’ lives, so we must know how to prevent teenage pregnancy. This essay will go over some of the causes of teen pregnancy, whether it is an issue in Canada or not, some ways it is being prevented, and some ways pregnant teenagers are being helped. So how to prevent teenage pregnancy?
Teen pregnancy is defined as a pregnancy of a girl aged 15 to 19 as of delivery date or end of the pregnancy. It is not a new problem, the rate of teen pregnancy in Canada is lower now than it was in 1974. Figure 1 shows the historical trends in Canada and the United States.
One cause of teenage pregnancy is not being properly educated. If teen girls do not know what the consequences and options are, they will have a higher chance of becoming pregnant. The socio-economic class of teen parents also plays a big part in teen pregnancy because if they do not have sufficient access to various forms of contraception, the likelihood of becoming pregnant is greatly increased. Another force that may be driving teens to have sex earlier, and getting pregnant accidentally, is the media. There are often many sexual themes in a lot of shows aimed towards younger audiences. The examples being set by these shows and the media may influence how the young people act.
There is more US data on effects on the children than Canadian data. It can be assumed that the effects will be similar in Canada. Babies born to young mothers tend to have lower birth weights which can lead to complications during their first years. However, there is not a difference in the development of motor and mental skills between children born to teen mothers or to 20-29-year-old mothers. There are many negative effects teen pregnancy can have on the children, but they are secondary effects of the age of the mother. If a girl becomes pregnant at a young age, it will be much more difficult for her to finish her education, thus making it harder for her to find a good job to support her child. She also may not have a partner or the support of her family. The mother’s education, job, and social and economic situation play a bigger role in her child’s development than her age. Children of teenage pregnancies also have a higher chance of being neglected and are more prone to accidental injuries due to the neglect.
Pregnancy also has an effect on the mother. Due to the vulnerable state, she is in people may try to exploit her. They can be violent towards her, and there is a higher rate of relationship conflict, abuse, and trauma. Mental health disorders such as depression are double the estimated rates for non-pregnant teenagers. If the mother does not carry her baby to term, the effects of losing the child can also have an effect on her. The chances of miscarriage are higher the younger a mother is. If she does miscarry it can have a large impact on her mental health. Figure 2 shows that abortion is becoming a more common outcome than live birth. Even if having an abortion is the mother’s decision, based on the economic situation, her health or simply not being ready for a child, it is an extremely difficult decision to make and can have a negative effect on her mental and physical health.
There are a few things being done to prevent teenage pregnancy. One of the biggest ways is teaching abstinence, not partaking in sexual activities at all. This can work, but it does little to inform young people about the dangers of unprotected sex, like STIs or pregnancy. Teaching children at a young age about safe sex and giving them access to various forms of birth control is another thing that is being done to prevent teen pregnancy. There is a program required in schools in Canada to teach about safe sex. There are public organizations that have programs to further inform young people on sexual health. In Canada, there are many public health organizations, such as Ottawa Public Health, that are trying to help prevent teen pregnancies. They offer affordable contraception and free condoms. They also offer pregnancy testing and information about options.
Support varies greatly depending on where the mother lives. For example, there are some high school programs which allow students to bring their child to school in order to continue their education. Planned Parenthood in Toronto offers many resources for pregnant teens, including prenatal care, nutritional counseling, and short-term counseling for pregnant teens without a waitlist. There is another support organization called Birthright. It offers many resources and options for pregnant teenagers, such as adoption, prenatal care, and community programs. However, this organization does not offer abortion at all and will not recommend it as they are pro-life. This further complicates an already difficult situation by adding the issue of the support and help systems not always being so straight-forward.
In conclusion, while the rate of teenage pregnancy is lower than it has been in the past, it is still an issue that can cause harm to many young girls in Canada. More support will be needed in the future for the wellbeing of everyone. Everyone can be affected by this issue and Canadians need to make contraception and education more accessible for everyone.