Teenage Pregnancy Essay Research Paper Teenage pregnancy

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Teenage Pregnancy Essay, Research Paper Teenage pregnancy and out-of-wedlock childbearing were central issues in the debate over welfare reform. They are frequently seen as both the cause of increased welfare costs and caseloads over the last 25 years, and the result of the welfare system itself. Out-of-wedlock births among teenagers have increased dramatically in the last several decades and now account for almost 70% of all teenage births. Yet, trends in teenage sexual activity and childbearing reflect broader trends in sexual and reproductive behavior among women of all ages and income levels. Women age 20 and older, for example, account for more than three-quarters of the unintended pregnancies and abortions that occur each year in the United States. Moreover, despite the

sharp increase in teenage out-of-wedlock births, the increase has been even greater among older women. As a result, teenagers account for a much smaller proportion of out-of-wedlock births today than they did in the 1970s. Contrary to what I previously thought, only 5% of mothers on welfare are teenagers, and just 1%, or about 32,000, are under age 18. However, a large proportion of women who begin childbearing as teenagers eventually end up on welfare, and those who do tend to need assistance for a long period of time. Proposals have been based on two basic assumptions: that poor, unmarried teenagers deliberately get pregnant and have babies in order to collect welfare and set up their own households; and that a prohibition on benefits will, in and of itself, discourage

out-of-wedlock births. Through the research I?ve done I found that the great majority of poor teenagers use contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, and that most births to poor adolescents are unintended. It also suggests that most women, including teenagers, would prefer to give birth once they are married. This paper examines teenage sexual and reproductive behavior, in addition to key behavior differences among adolescents of varying income levels. It explores the extent to which teenage mothers depend on welfare and whether welfare recipients who gave birth as teenagers differ significantly on certain socioeconomic indicators from those who were not teenage mothers. It also considers whether current proposals to reduce teenage pregnancies and out-of-wedlock births among young

women on or at risk of welfare are likely to achieve. Teenagers and Sex Sexual intercourse during the teenage years has become the norm in the United States. While intercourse among very young teenagers is still relatively rare more than 8 in 10 adolescents have had intercourse by the time they turn 20. As sex has become more common at younger ages, historic differences in sexual activity among teenagers of different races, income levels and religions have decreased. For example, while 60% of poor women aged 15-19 are sexually experienced, so are 53% of low-income adolescents and 50% of higher income teenagers. Contraceptive Use and Pregnancy Most teenagers can and do use contraception to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unintended pregnancies-even the first time

they have intercourse. Nearly 60% of poor and low-income teenage women and about three-quarters of higher income adolescent women use some method of contraception-usually the condom-the first time they have sex. Although their contraceptive use is not perfect, teenagers use contraceptives as effectively as young, unmarried adults. Adolescent women, in fact, are less likely to experience a contraceptive failure than unmarried method users in their early 20s. At all ages, however, higher income women use contraceptives more successfully than lower income women. Poor and low-income teenagers, for example, are twice as likely as higher income adolescents to have an unplanned pregnancy while using the pill or the condom. Teenagers who become pregnant rarely place a child for adoption;