As we mentioned earlier, pregnancy comes about in three different ways. The most common way, especially in teenagers is through sexual intercourse. However, there are some factors that accelerate the level of sexual activities or rather put teens in situations where sexual intercourse is unavoidable hence resulting into pregnancy. These can be divided into three different categories:
- Political factors
- Economic factors
- Social factors
- Public policy: the kind of public policies in place can increase the risk of teenage pregnancy. For instance, in some countries at the moment, teens are openly exposed and supplied with contraceptives such as condoms so as to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies and HIV and STI infections. However, without the right information on how to use them, then the government does more damage than the assistance they intend to provide. They are not to blame since even some adults do not actually know how to use these condoms. Young people are also allowed to get married once they are past the legal age, that is 18, in some countries even as early as 16 years. Marriage entails a lot of things, children included. The moment they get married, pregnancy is just a matter of time.
- Sex education programs: the sex education programs that the government provides, especially in low income countries is not sufficient. Just as we said earlier, teenagers are at a stage of self-discovery and trying out new things and without the right information and guidance, they end up making a lot of wrong decisions. They need to be informed more on the changes that are occurring in their bodies and how to react to them in the right way. Whatever we offer them in science and biology classes on reproductive health is not enough to sustain them through a challenging this very challenging stage.
Teenage pregnancy is a global problem, but most countries reporting the highest numbers are the middle and low income ones, why?
Poverty: many families suffer from lack. They do not even have enough to provide for their basic needs or to take care of the children. The teens from such homes usually have limited choices:
- Go into prostitution, either for money or just in exchange of a few favours. This predisposes them to pregnancy because most of the times they will have unprotected sex.
- Get married early especially the girls so as to reduce the family’s burden or to support them when dowry is paid or maybe if the husband is rich which will definitely lead to pregnancy.
- Go into early employment to support the family. This most times either pushes them to start their own homes or exposes them to sexual intercourse.
- Surrogate motherhood. A teen decides to carry a pregnancy for someone else who in most cases can’t give birth then after delivery gives out the baby and she gets paid. This is however very rare.
- Peer pressure: this is simply influence from one’s peers (could be in the same age bracket, same social status, religious beliefs). It can be explained in several ways. Most teens succumb to doing things simply because someone in their circle said it was fun, or it would be nice to try out. In other cases, someone does something or says they did something without actually facing the consequences. So say someone starts describing how great his/her sexual experience was great and how they did not get pregnant if it’s a girl, another person in the group is likely to be motivated to have sex.
- Drug and alcohol abuse: most teenagers are exposed to drugs. Substances that when taken alter how the body functions. Most commonly used is alcohol, bhang, cigarettes, gum, cocaine in a few cases. Once taken, a person feels intoxicated, and they do not clearly reason. They are in a state of helplessness where anything seems to be a good decision. Sexual intercourse, even unprotected one, does not seem to be a big deal at that point. Most teens do not even remember how and when it happened, some are actually surprised to find out they are expectant.
- Date rape: it is vile, it is sad, but it happens, most times unexpectedly. Partying is one fun activity most teens cannot avoid. There is always plenty of drugs in such parties. So there you are, with your date, maybe you actually do not even use drugs but he/she decides to put some in your drink without your knowledge. Beware that this could happen even on a normal no partying date. You innocently sip your drink and before you realize it you are intoxicated and unable to think clearly and the person can have his/her way with you. At times some will shamelessly force you into having sex with them after or even during a date (especially if the date is in a private place). Most young girls, do not report this to the police or even go to the hospital to get the necessary services in case of rape maybe because of fear if stigma or not being aware of what happened.
- Sexual abuse: almost similar to our previous point. A young girl can be forced or coerced into having unprotected sex by a relative (in most cases) or a stranger. This predisposes them to pregnancy. Teenage rape is not news; it is something trending in our society today where we have literally thrown our morals aside.
- Early marriages: it is trending in most African countries. In some societies folks do not even see this as a big deal in fact if they see a young girl of a ‘marriageable’ age still at home they wonder what is wrong with that child and her parents. Some girls are even forced into marriage, their opinions, desires and dreams not even being considered. In a few cases the marriage is the decision of the teen.
- Childhood surrounding: what was life like when that teen was growing up? Was she exposed to constant violence between the parents? Was the dad an absentee father? Studies have it that children who grew up with an absentee dad are likely to get pregnant as compared to these whose fathers was present. Those who were exposed to violence are also likely to get pregnant.
- Sibling influence: studies have it that girls whose older siblings got pregnant as teens were likely to get pregnant as teens too as compared to those whose siblings did not. It is simply the theory of the environment shaping one’s character.
- Media: be it social or mass, media these days is infiltrated by sex. Even simple adverts like those of cooking oil or soap have to have an element of sex. The kind of movies our children are exposed to, the music, the posts on their social media pages, the books they read, at least in one day they are bound to come across something sex related. Unfortunately for all of us, media only displays the beauty of sex with put stating clearly where when and how it should happen and the consequences if it doesn’t happen at the right time. So the teens only want to experiment, see the beauty; only to get depressed when they realize that there are dangers too.
- Role models: they shape our teens lives. Most of these people are the ones our kids want to be like. So if they say something is okay, even if it’s downright wrong, the desire to be just like them pushes teenagers to do as they say or as they do. So sex is fine by tem? Then sex is fine. Teenage pregnancy is fine by her? Then teenage pregnancy is fine.