Teenage pregnancy rates in the United States have declined dramatically in recent decades (a 67% drop since 1991). Reasons for these declines are not totally clear but evidence suggests that it is due to more teens abstaining from sexual activity and more teens who are sexually active using birth control than in previous years. However, the United States teenage pregnancy rate is still substantially higher than most other Western industrialized nations and the majority of these pregnant teenagers are students within our school system.
Those students who are at risk for becoming pregnant include all females that have begun menstruating and are sexually active. Signs that a teen can be pregnant include a missed or very light period, breast tenderness, nausea – usually in the morning, vomiting, feeling lightheaded, fainting, weight gain, tiredness, and a swelling abdomen. In order to determine whether or not a student is truly pregnant is to confirm it with a home pregnancy test that are available at local supermarkets and drug stores. If the home test results positive it needs to be followed up by a medical diagnosis from a doctor. The primary cause of teenage pregnancy is, of course, sexual activity but secondary causes include lack of information regarding contraceptives and emergency contraceptive (i.e. the morning after pill).
In today’s society it is a challenge just being a teenager by itself – add in pregnancy and all that comes with it and it can become even more of a challenge. Studies show that teenage motherhood could lead to both physical and mental health risks for the adolescent. Physical risks include pre-eclampsia, hypertension, and complications at birth because the teenage hips cannot accommodate the baby. Mental risks for pregnant adolescents include anxiety, insomnia, social isolation and depression.
According to Problem Behavior Theory, teenage pregnancy is considered as a problem behavior that results in significant levels of psychological distress.
Erik Erikson was a stage theorist who emphasized that the ego makes positive contributions to development by mastering attitudes, ideas, and skills at each stage of development which helps children grow into successful, contributing members of society. Within each of these stages is a psychological conflict that must be successfully overcome in order for a child to develop into a healthy, well-adjusted adult. I believe that teenage pregnancy would fall into Erikson’s 5th stage , Identity vs. Role Confusion, and flow into the 6th stage, Intimacy vs. Isolation.
Identity vs. Role Confusion is the stage of Erikson’s theory that incorporates children ages 12-18. In this stage the children’s main task is developing a sense of self so they are asking themselves ” who am I?” and “what do I want to do with my life?”, basically they are trying to find themselves.