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Teenage pregnancy


Anxious statistics of teenage pregnancy.

Pregnancy from the physiological point of view.

Teenage motherhood in America.

Sociologist Frank Furstenberg’s teenage theory.

Last year in the UK 36,540 unmarried teenage girls between the ages of
15 and 19 had а baby.

In the USA nearly one million teenage American girls become pregnant
each year.

Britain has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in Europe.

The teenage pregnancy rate in Britain is twice that of Germany and four
times that of France.

4 out of 10 teenage girls in the world become pregnant before they are

Why do so many teens end up in this situation? They must know the

Teens in the USA in particular are constantly warned of the risks of
getting pregnant. Sex education starts as early as 3rd grade, messages
to say no to sex appear on TV, stories of young girls getting pregnant
are constantly in teen magazines. However,the truth is most teens
believe it won’t happen to them.

Don’t teens realise that if they get pregnant they might ruin their

In general teens who are the most ambitious are more careful. Teens
who lack self-esteem, or have fewer definite plans are less cautious.
Some girls are either too embarrassed to buy birth control items or
believe that they will just ‘say no’ to sex. President George W Bush
wants to get rid of safe-sex classes in order to teach abstinence.

What is life like for teen mothers?

Most teen girls are delighted when they first realise they are
pregnant-they are given gifts and look forward to having а baby.
However the reality is often а terrible shock even when the girl’s
parents help. Most can’t cope with looking after а baby and schoolwork
and drop out of school. In most cases the teen mother needs а job to pay
for the baby, she has to find somewhere to look after the baby while is
workihg or studying. Due to these problems, most teen mothers do not
find good jobs.

What is life like for their children?

Life can be very hard. Many grow up in poverty or are neglected because
the mother is too young to care for them properly. In the majority of
cases the children do not do well at school because their mother has no
time to encourage them or because she did not have a chance to do well
in school, she cannot help them with schoolwork.

What about the children’s dads?

In most cases the father does not help financially or emotionally. If he
is young too he can’t help very much because he has the same problems as
the mother. In the past, the couple would get married but evidence
showed because the couple were so young, it didn’t work.

What help is evailable for teen parents and their kids?

Teen mothers are given some welfare money to help them survive. Around
the USA and parts of Britain, there are some schools that have а special
childcare centre for the teen mothers. The centre looks after the
babies while their mothers are in class. They also teach the mother how
to make sure the baby stays healthy. Although these centres are helpful,
they have been criticised for how much they cost the state.

How can the number of teen pregnancies be reduced?

Some say teens should be taught to abstain from sex until they are
married, others say we should give them more information. Some schools
use ‘Think-It-Over Dolls’. These are dolls that cry during the night and
must be picked up. They also need to be ‘fed’. The dolls record it if
you hit them or drop them. Teens are given the dolls to look after for
а weekend.

Pregnancy is the period during which а woman carries а baby within
her body before giving birth. Pregnancy begins with conception-that is,
the fertilization of an egg by а sperm. The fertilized egg is called а

Pregnancy, also called gestation, lasts about nine months for most
women. The femaleof almost all other species of mammals also have а
period of pregnancy.

The period varies in length among different animals.

The baby during pregnancy.The developing zygote is called an embryo
during the first two months of pregnancy, and а fetus thereafter.
During the second week after conception, the membranes that surround the
embryo become attached to the lining of the uterus. А structure called
the placenta forms in the uterus. The placenta enables the embryo to
live within the mother’s body. Food and oxygen pass from the
mother’s bloodstream to the embryo or fetus by means of the placenta.

After two months, the fetus is about two 1 inch ( 2.5
centimetres) long and can move its head, mouth, arms, and legs.

The fetus has recognizable human features after three month. The
mother may first feel the fetus moving during the fifth month. The
fetal heartbeat can also be heard at that time. After six month, the
fetus measures about 14 inches (36 centimeters) long and weighs
about 30 ounches(850 grams).Most of its organs are functioning.In the
last three months of pregnancy, the mother’s bloodstream provides immune
substances that help protect the baby from various diseases after

How pregnancy affects women. Pregnancy causes physical changes in
women. Menstruation stops and does not resume until after а women has
given birth. During the first three month of pregnancy, the mother may
suffer morning sickness (nausea and vomiting). Pregnant women gain an
average of 20 to 25 pounds (9 to 11 kilograms). The fetus at birth
accounts for about 6.5 to 8 pounds (2.9 to 3.6 kilograms) of this
weight, the placenta about 1 to 1.5 pounds (0,5 to 0,7 kilogram), the
brests about 1 pound (0.5 kilogram), and the rest being mainly fat
and water.

The mothers breasts change in many ways during pregnancy. For example,
the nipples become larger and the area around them turns darker. Breasts
also increase in size so that they can provide adequate supply of milk.
These and other changes make it possible for the mother to nurse the
baby after it is born.

Women should have regular medical care during pregnancy. For example,
а physician can advise а woman about whether she should follow а certain
diet. To prevent damage to the embryo, doctors advise pregnant women
not to smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, or take certain medications.
Such drugs as heroin and cocaine are especially dangerous for а mother
and her developing baby. In addition, women who are 35 years of age or
older and those who have certain genetic disorders in their family
histories may be advised to seek genetic counseling. One of the most
serious conditions that may occur in the later months of gestation is
toxemia of pregnancy. Its symptoms include headache, sudden and
excessive weight gain, and swelling of the face annd hands. А women
with these symptoms should see а physician.

Miscarriage, also called spontaneous abortion , is the
unintentional early ending of pregnancy by а natural cause . Physical
problems may occur in the women’s body that cause the fetus to die and
be expelled from the uterus. Defects in the egg or sperm are another
chief cause of miscarriage.Medical treatment before and during
pregnancy can prevent many miscarriages from occuring.

Every year ,more than one million American teenage girls become
pregnant; 80 percent are not married when they become pregnant; and
nearly 30,000 are under age fifteen. More than 50 percent of the babies
born to teenage mothers in the United States today are born out of
wedlock. Although rates are higher for black teenagers than for white
teenagers, U.S. teenagers are twice as likely to become pregnant as
Canadian teenagers and four times as likely as Swedish teenagers. There
are excessive costs associated with these teen pregnancies: costs to the
girls or women themselves, costs to their offspring, and costs to the
society at large.

Teenage pregnancy and motherhood are not а “black problem,” as many
people suppose. The pregnancy rate for black teenagers is higher than
that for white teenagers, but most of this difference is related to
socioeconomic factors. Black teenagers who come from disrupted families,
whose parents did not complete high school, and who live in inner-city
ghettos are three times more likely to give birth than are black or
white teenagers in better social circumstances. While black teenage
pregnancy has declined over the last decade, white teenage pregnancy
has increased. The birthrate for white American teenagers is 40 percent
higher than that for teenagers in most other industrialized nations.
Teenage motherhood is an all-American problem.

Culturally and socially, unwed teenage mothers are “out of step”.
According to contemporary timetables, the most appropriate time for а
women to have her first child is between ages twenty-two and
thirty-two. Moreover the transition from adolescence to adulthood
ideally occurs in stages: finish school, get а job, get married, and,
only then, have а baby. This sequence allows young people to adjust to
new roles one at а time. Teenagers who skip these preliminary steps and
become mothers first are much less likely to finish school, to work at а
job paying more than the minimum wage, or to establish а stable
marriage, even at later points in their lives than are other young

Why do so many American teenagers become pregnant? Most experts
agree that the reason is socialization-or rather а failure in
socialization. In Western Europe, adults are more accepting of teenage
sexuality. Adolescents are required to take comprehensive sex education
courses and are given easy access to free contraceptives. In this
country, most parents are reluctant to discuss sexuality and family
planning with their adolescents. The average health class devotes ten
hours or less to reproduction. If contraception and abortion are
discussed, it is usually in senior high-which may be too late. Most
parents want schools to offer sex education. But until recently most did
not want sex education to include information on birth control, on the
grounds that this would encourage young people to become sexually
active. Offering teenagers free contraceptives through high school
health clinics is still controversial.

As а result, teenagers get most of their informatin-and
misinformation-about sex from their friends. Many do not know what time
during the menstrual cycle they are likely to get pregnant, where to
obtain birth control, or how to use it. Less than half of sexually
active teenagers use contraceptives on а regular basis. Almost all are
surprised they are pregnant. They tend to think they are “safe” because
they are too young to become pegnant, do not have sex often enough,or
they simply don’t think about the possible consequences.

Indirectly, the mass media may contribute to the problem. Scenes
implying sexual intercourse appear nightly on prime time TV. Explicit
sexual themes are common in movies, rock music, and advertising. Yet
all three major networks refused to broadcast public servicea
nonouncements on teenage pregnancy until the summer of 1985. They still
reject public education messages on contraceptives.

There are signs of change, however. In part because of the AIDS
epidemic, eight out of ten adults now favor including discussions on
birth control and sexually transmitted diseases in high school
curricula, and five out of ten would introduce these topics in
elementary school. Television stations have begun to carry public
service announcements that promote the use of condoms as protection
against AIDS. The national Parent Teachers Association is now sending
information and suggestions on AIDS to its offices all over the country,
encouraging them to hold workshops and school meetings on AIDS. It
seems doubtful that these measures will cause an immediate or sharp
decline in teenage pregnancy, but they are а first step.

Excluding prostitutes and homosexual men, teenagers have the highest
rates of sexually transmitted diseases in our population. To date,
relatively few cases of adolescents with AIDS have been reported. But
one-fifth of all AIDS cases have occured in twenty- to twenty-nine years
olds. The average time lapse between infection and the development of
AIDS is ten years suggesting that most of these young adults contrasted
the virus in late adolescence. Most expect AIDS to spread significantly
among the heterosexual population in the near future. Given the high
rates of sexually transmitted diseases and low rates of contraceptive
use among adolescents, teenagers will be at risk.

Sociologist Frank Furstenberg and his colleagues Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
and Phillip Morgan have done an important study of teenage pregnancy
that gives essential informationon its effects on the mother and her
child. The study is particularly impressive because they recently
followed up the women and their children in 1984, 17 years after the
women were initially interviewed while pregnant in 1966-1967. There were
approximately 400 respondents, most of them black, all of them
initially residing in Baltimore.

Furstenberg and his colleagues concluded that although there are
many negative consequences to teenage childbearing, the negative
consequences have been exaggerated and there has not been enough
attention paid to those who, despite the odds against them, nonetheless
manage to cope and succeed.

а substantial recovery. At that point, an additional 38 percent had
graduated from high school, an additional 25 percent had some education
beyond high school, and 5 percent had graduated from college. Of those
who had been on welfare at some time during the study, two-thirds had
managed to get off it by 1984; 67 percent were employed, and fully а
quarter had incomes in excess of 25 thousand dollars per year.

The study shows clearly that there is great diversity in the
outcomes for adolescent mothers. Some remain locked in poverty for the
rest of their lives, whereas others manage to succeed despite their
circumstances. Furstenberg and his colleagues feel it is important to
understand the routes to success that some women find. The most
important factor is differential resources. Women with more educated
parents who have more income tend to do better because they have more
resources.The second most important factor is competence and motivation.
Those women who were doing well in school at the time of the pregnancy
and had high educational aspirations were more likely to do well
following the birth. А third factor is intervention programs such as
special schools for pregnant teenagers and hospital intervention
programs. When these programs are successful, they help the women
complete high school and postpone other births, two factors that are
crucial to recovering from the adverse circumstances of а teenage
pregnancy. If there are additional births locked out of the job market
, but she can successfully build а career if she has only one child to

а serious problem, both because of the large numbers of people affected
and because the consequences can be so serious. What can be done?

The strategy of Furstenberg and his colleagues is to look at the
success stories-those women who manage to rise out of poverty to make
successful and happy lives for themselves. Once the factors were crucial
to their success are identified, social programs can be designed to
provide similar resourcesor experiences to more teenage mothers, thereby
breaking the cycle of poverty and teen pregnancy. Two critical factors
to success, for example, are finishing high school (and preferably
getting even more education) and postponing other births. Social
programs need to be set up to assist adoloscent mothers ih finishing
high school (including special schools for pregnant teenagers, and child
care for mothers while attending school). Information on and access to
contraception is essential. Programs such as Head Start that help
prepare these children for school aare critical, because they are at
risk for academic failure. Marriage to а man with some financial
resources was also а route to success for some women in this study.
However, the high rate of unemployment among young, black, urban men
makes such marriages less likely. This point out the importance of
social programs aimed at males as well as females.

In summary, teenage pregnancy is а serious problem, but not
unsolvable one. By studying those women who stage а recovery from the
experience, we can gain important insights into how we can break the
cycle of poverty and teen pregnancy.


1.Colman,Libby L. and A.D.Pregnancy:The Psyhological Experiennce. Rev.
Ed. Noonday,1991.

2.Hales, Dianne R. Pregnancy and Birth. Chelsea Hse.,1989.

3.Janet Shibley Hyde. Understanding Human Sexuality; 1994. 5th ed.

4.Kitzinger, Shiela. Being Born. Grosset, 1986.

5.Sociology: An Introduction/Michael S. Bassis-4th ed.;1991.

6.Sociology/Richard T. Schaufer. Robert P. Lamm-6th ed.;1998

7.Society/Ely Chinoy-Random House,-New York



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