The Effects Of Teen Pregnancy On Children

Essay, Research Paper

Children from homes run by teenage mothers

have to face almost insurmountable obstacles in life. The incidents of

depression and mental health problems, the lack of father figures, and

the high rate of poverty often connected to children in homes run by teenage

mothers put them at serious disadvantages when compared to children raised

in nuclear families. Many people believe that the implementation of sex

education in schools and the addition of more federal aid for single parents

are major causes for the country’s high rate of teen pregnancies. When

the true purpose of sex education and federal aid is to help strengthen

the mother and her child so that they can eventually lead productive lives.

The absence of a father figure in the home

brings about a chain reaction of dilemmas. The emotional problems that

children suffer because there is no father in their life can be potentially

hazardous to their future. Many children tend to be effected mentally because

these powerful emotions have the potential to do permanent damage in a

child’s life. Children may experience sadness and depression, aggressive

behavior, frequent illness, difficulty in school, eating problems, and

sleeping disorders.

Many children also suffer from various

social difficulties and self-esteem problems that come along with living

in a one-parent household. The pressure that children raised by teenage

parents go through is tremendous. Children who don’t have fathers present

in the home often feel unloved. There is no trauma as excruciatingly painful

as parental rejection and there is probably no worse of a way to wreck

a person’s life.

Males are affected differently by the absence

of a father than females are. A boy needs a male role model in his life

so that he can learn how to become a man. Children who don’t have good

role models often choose negative, unsavory characters to mold themselves

after. These children become susceptible to many of the dangerous risks

associated with children who are raised by teenage parents. “Males that

grow up in one-parent homes may gain negative personality traits like immaturity,

laziness, and disrespect for women (Meurer, Meurer, & Holloway,1996).”

Females who grow up without fathers in

the home usually end up having pre-marital sex (Hinckely, 1998). ” They

subconsciously want to make up for the affection that they didn’t receive

from their fathers. They become too dependent on men because they want

someone who can replace their father. These women usually don’t know how

to relate to other males and they have the wrong idea about what a relationship

should be like.

Girls may even grow up to hate men because

of an unconscious resentment toward absent fathers. The shift from the

traditional nuclear family to one-parent homes has been dramatic in the

United States. “In many Western industrialized societies, the one-parent

family is becoming more common and tolerated (Encyclopedia Britannica,

1999).” However they often have not proven to be successful.

“Since 1970, the percentage of children

living with single parents has doubled, from 12 to 27 percent, because

of the increases in the divorce rate and the number of unmarried parents.

Single parent families now include more than 18 million children and comprise

the most common non-nuclear family (Meurer, Meurer, & Holloway,1996).”

This is a startling statistic considering

the fact that crime and poverty is directly related to children who are

raised by teenage parents. People who are faced with the harsh reality

of raising children are usually not prepared to handle the responsibility.

A lot of men try to run away from the problem. They then reject their children

and neglect to provide any kind of financial assistance for them. The mother

is ultimately left alone to juggle the task of raising the children and

earning all or most of the family income needed to support them. “Forty-one

percent of these mothers have never been married (Hinckely, 1998). ”

Most teen mothers have to rely on government

aid like Welfare, W.I.C, Focus Hope, project housing, and Medicaid as relief.

These mothers are only able to give their children the bare minimum for

survival. I see this first hand because a lot of people I know currently

have Medicaid insurance or at least receive a generous amount of financial

aid from the government to attend college here at Aquinas. There are a

lot of people who attend colleges all over the country thanks to financial

aid and grants. Government aid is good and people who are in need deserve

to receive it. After all it is the governments’ duty to ensure its people

the right to pursue happiness. People should not be denied the chance to

get health insurance, financial aid for tuition, decent housing and suitable

food to eat because they are poor.

It seems unfair that these children have

to suffer for the mistakes of their parents. Children raised by teenage

parents are brought into a highly competitive world where they start life

at a handicap. These children are automatically placed in the lower class.

This is a powerful term because it encompasses every aspect of these children’s

lives. From the rat-infested housing where they live to the poorly equipped

schools that they attend. Low class is the word that describes their lives

and their potential to become productive citizens.

Most working mothers who have had children

too early are not qualified to get high paying jobs; therefore they must

support their families with minimum wages and the little bit of money that

they receive from the government. “Children who live in single parent homes,

especially Hispanics and blacks, live below the poverty level (Hinckely,

1998). ” People don’t choose to be poor. Circumstantial issues like poor

education and lack of career opportunities cause poverty. The limited resources

and the continuation of cutbacks in government programs keep people poor.

It is practically impossible for a single

parent to raise kids, work a job, and pay all of the bills and utilities.

The build up of all of these pressures causes enormous physical and mental

stress on both the mother and child. It is the duty of American citizens

to help out the people in need by supporting government aid and private

charity institutions like the Salvation Army. People should not complain

about helping teen mothers and their children because by helping these

people in need they are helping to lover crime, illiteracy, and poverty

rates all over the country.

Now that the country is realizing how the

problem of teen pregnancy effects not only children, but also society at

large, numerous options have become available for people who need help.

Sex education is being taught in schools and clinics everyday. There are

also many classes open to mothers on how to raise a child and how to teach

values and ethics in the home. Ignorance about vital subjects like birth

control methods, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, male/female

relationships, love, dating, and marriage is a primary reason why there

are so many pregnancies by teenage mothers. The more people are educated

about pre-marital sex and it’s consequences, the more likely it is that

teen pregnancy rates will decrease.

Teen pregnancy is a controversial issue

because it effects society as a whole. Teenage mothers often raise children

who never learn how to live productive lifestyles. Negative elements like

drug addiction and crime seem to be the only outlets that are available

to lonely, confused children who live in poverty-stricken cities. For many

of these children there are only the options of dead-end jobs, jail or

early death. Many of these children end up having their own children at

an early age; therefore perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty, poor

education, joblessness, and lack of hope for the future.

Teenage girls that get pregnant in our

community become overwhelmed with the pressures of supporting their children

financially while trying to instill morals and ethics in their lives. We

as a community need to come together with the government and help these

mothers out. The problems of a teenage mother and her children eventually

become the problem of all of society. Children come first because they

are our future. Every child in the country should be afforded an equal

opportunity to succeed no matter its family, racial, or financial background.

Supporting teen mothers and their families and educating people about the

responsibilities and the risks of having sex can do this.

Works Cited

1. “Family” Encyclopedia Britannica Online [Accessed December

2, 1999].

2. John R. Meurer; Linda N. Meurer; Richard

L. Holloway. “Clinical Problems and Counseling for Single-parent Families.”

American Family Physician 54 (1996) : 864-868.

3. Gordon B. Hinckley. “The Teaching of

Values: Putting the Father Back as the Head of the Family.” Workshop. U.S

Conference of Mayors. Salt Lake City. 15 Nov. 1998.