Preventing Teenage Pregnancy: Should Adolescents Decide?

Posted on July 7, 2010 in Society

By Divya Gupta:

An advertisement on the television shows that if you pop a pill within 72 hours of intercourse, you can avoid unwanted pregnancies. At first it seems like the biggest boon for all teenagers and other women who are sexually active but find it difficult to use other methods of contraception — because their boyfriends won’t wear condoms, parents will find others or simply because they cannot afford them. Critics are of the view that teenagers, who are still minors should not be making such decisions for themselves. In additon this removes a very important barrier from teenage promiscuisity: if you can get rid of it, then why refrain from sexual relations?

Teenage pregnancy is one of the most commonly known issue in both developing and developed countries. It occurs due to various reasons which may include: casual sex, promiscuous behavious, long term relationships, child marriage, sexual abuse etc. Adolescence is a very vulnerable stage of one’s life. It involves physical, mental, emotional and social changes. Identity crisis and friendships take on a whole new meaning and cause turmoil in a teenager’s life. The person also starts attaining puberty and with that the sexual behaviours begin. Most people by the age of 20 are sexually active. These vulnerable teenagers with access to all sorts of imaginable stuff thanks to the internet and the media become all the more prone to engaging in acts which may spoil their entire life. They indulge and with the availability of contraceptives they get out of any potential dangers. What they don’t realise is that these contraceptives do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases, that they may pose danger to their own body systems in the long run with possible side effects. These young adults who are still transiting from childhood to adulthood feel that they are old enough to decide what’s best for them. Teenage pregnancy poses potential dangers to the mother’s as well as the child’s life. Lack of prenatal care, emotional fluctuations, lack of family support and an array of unforeseen issues arise in the case of teenage pregnancies.  Teen pregnancy is on the rise after over a decade of declining numbers. These new statistics demonstrate how important it is to discuss abstinence and safe sex practices with your teen. Teenagers who have no option but to give birth need to make many lifestyle changes to ensure healthy child birth. In India, if a girl bears child before marriage, she is subjected to traumatic experiences. Life can change entirely and a young woman may be forced to grow up before her time. Despite all this, teenagers don’t feel the need to take parental consent or advice regarding these matters.

What do psychologists have to say about this? Clearly it involves religious, ethical and moral issues which go beyond the realm of science. But psychologists do recognize two key facts: 1) once adolescents become sexually active they tend to remain so and 2) children born to teenage mothers are at a great risk in many ways. Psychologists also recognize the fact that anything that prevents these unwanted births is worth considering. But again it is a largely ethical and moral issue. Psychologists can contribute their perspective and findings to the debate, but only informed and concerened citizens like you can ultimately decide the issue.

The only possible way to avoid teenage pregnancy is by awareness and communication. Be approachable and build your relationships on trust. Enlighten your children about the use of birth control methods and provide adequate sex education. Ignorance is not always bliss.