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Analysis of Theories Explaining The Emergence of Teenage Pregnancy

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Since the 1950s, teenage pregnancy has attracted a great deal of concern and attention from religious leaders, the public, policymakers, and social scientists, particularly in the United States and other developed countries. Demographic studies continue to report that in developed countries such as the United States, teenage pregnancy results in lower educational attainment, increased rates of poverty, and worse “life outcomes” for children of teenage mothers compared to children of young adult women. Teenage pregnancy is defined as occurring between thirteen and nineteen years of age. Most teenage births in the United States occur among girls between fifteen and nineteen years of age, the concern over the age at which a young woman should give birth has existed throughout human history. A baby born to a teenage mother is more at risk than a baby born to a grown woman. 9% of teen girls have low-birth-weight babies (under 5.5 pounds).

Low birth-weight babies may have organs that are not fully developed, which can lead to lung problems such as respiratory distress syndrome, or bleeding in the brain. The babies are also 40x more likely to die in their first month of life than normal weight babies and are exposed to mental retardation, brain damage, and injury at birth. A teenage mother who has problems, emotionally and physically, and death rate from pregnancy complications is a lot higher. Pregnant teens are more likely to be undernourished and suffer premature or prolonged labor, and during the first three months of pregnancy; seven out of ten teenage girls do not get prenatal care, see a doctor, or go to a clinic. Teenage girls may also develop many emotional problems such as depression, shame, guilt, and stress. Every social problem has theories, and the major theories on teen pregnancy are social conflict theory, evolution theory and cultivation theory. There is a commonsense assumption that ‘teenage pregnancy’ constitutes some sort of a social problem.

A neglected aspect of this social construction is explored. It is suggested that ideologies of reproduction go only so far in convincingly accounting for ambiguities contained in social constructions of teenage pregnancy and that appreciation of contemporary ideologies of childhood is also needed. Expressions of teenage pregnancy as a problem may then be understood as a matter of social pollution, located at the intersection of ideologies of reproduction on one hand and ideologies of childhood on the other. According to ‘Teen Pregnancy Issues and Challenges’ (2017), The social conflict theory is when human behavior results in conflicts between compete groups, A teen is going through so much while being pregnant, which can cause tension between family and friends. Emotions are uncontrollable, and others might not be able to deal with the mood swings. The article ‘Teen Pregnancy Issues and Challenges’ (2017) mention that teens trying to coexist with their parents can be a struggle during pregnancy, the teen might feel like they lost their parents trust, and that can put an extra strain on their relationships. On the other hand, going through a teen pregnancy with the boyfriend can get messy, especially if the pregnancy is not planned. If the teen couple is still learning the basic things, pregnancy can make all that confusing. Teen pregnancy correlates with human evolution. The process of evolution involves a series of natural changes that cause species (populations of different organisms) to arise, adapt to the environment, and become extinct. All species or organisms have originated through the process of biological evolution.

Evolution occurs when there is change in the genetic material, the chemical molecule, DNA which is inherited from the parents, and especially in the proportions of different genes in a population. According to ‘Introduction to Human Evolution’ (2019), Genes represent the segments of DNA that provide the chemical code for producing proteins. The information that is contained in the DNA can change by a process known as mutation. The way genes are expressed that is, how they influence the body or behavior of an organism can also change. Genes affect how the body and behavior of an organism develop during its life, and therefore genetically inherited characteristics can influence the likelihood of an organism’s survival and reproduction. With high numbers of teen pregnancy throughout the years, experts have come forward with a theory that these young mothers are responding to a pattern in human evolution that induces people growing up in extremely stressful circumstances to bear children early and often. According to Goleman (2018), “Children who grow up in dangerous conditions, the theory holds, are primed to boost the chances of having their genes survive into the next generation by choosing earlier sex, earlier motherhood and more children”. One prediction of the theory is that girls who grow up in households where there is great emotional stress, and especially where the father is absent, will undergo puberty at an earlier age than other girls. Goleman (2018) Stated; “When a child learns that the world is insecure and risky, the biological response is to get into reproduction sooner. Because the danger is that if you don’t, you won’t reproduce at all.’ Adolescents who have high levels of exposure to television programs that contain sexual content are twice as likely to be involved in a pregnancy over the following three years as their peers who watch few such shows. Adolescents receive a considerable amount of information about sex through television and that programming typically does not highlight the risks and responsibilities of sex, which lead to the cultivation theory. The cultivation theory was proposed by George Gerbner. It is one of the core theories of media effects.

According to the theory, people who watch television frequently are more likely to be influenced by the messages from the world of television. The influence goes to such an extent that their worldview and perceptions start reflecting what they repeatedly see and hear on television. Television is, therefore, considered to contribute independently to the way people perceive social reality. According to In Cultural Communication (2015), this theory postulates that watching television frequently influences an individual to develop certain ideas of reality or beliefs and assumptions about life that mirror the most consistent or universal values that are showcased on television. The more a person watches television, the more likely he/she is to be influenced by what he watches when compared to others who watch less but share other similar demographic characteristics. Television offers a plethora of ideas and conceptions on a variety of social and cultural dynamics like race, gender, and sexuality.

Various studies have supported the claim that those who watch television more frequently, often display higher tendencies of being depressed and lonely, sense of alienation, have feelings of mistrust and think that the world is a malicious place. Teen pregnancy been happening for years now and will continue to happen if it still correlates to these three theories, social conflict theory, evolution theory and cultivation theory. I do agree with these three theories about teen pregnancy, for the simple fact that, I do know teens already go through all these emotions and feeling because of puberty. Therefore, teens start to bumps heads with their parents and start thinking they are mature enough to make their own decision. Also, when sex is always on TV, teens most likely going to initiate in it because it’s something to do or they believe they’re in love and that’s what they supposed to do. They aren’t really educated on protection, so that’s when teen pregnancy occurs, and social conflict and cultivation theories comes in place. Most teens do have a falling out with family and friends because they feel pressure and think nobody understand what they are going though. Also, when a child isn’t in a stable or calm environment, they tend to develop faster and have sex earlier than most, and that’s when evolution theory takes place.

References

  1. Cherry, A. L., & Dillon, M. E. (2019 February 23). Teenage Pregnancy – Childhood Studies – Oxford Bibliographies – obo. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199791231/obo-9780199791231-0111.xml Goleman, D. (2018, October 25). Theory links teen pregnancy to evolution. Retrieved March 9, 2019, from https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1991-07-30-1991211008-story.html In Cultural Communication, P. (2015, March 27). Cultivation Theory. Retrieved March 9, 2019, from https://www.communicationtheory.org/cultivation-theory/ Introduction to Human Evolution. (2019, January 16). Retrieved March 9, 2019, from http://humanorigins.si.edu/education/introduction-human-evolution [bookmark: _Hlk2968157] Murcott, A. (2008). The social construction of teenage pregnancy: A problem in the ideologies of childhood and reproduction. Sociology of Health & Illness, 2(1), 1-23. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9566.1980.tb00198.x Our Health, Our Futures – Sexual Issues – Teen Pregnancy, p. 5 – Health Risks. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.smith.edu/ourhealthourfutures/teenpreg5.html Teen Pregnancy Issues and Challenges. (2017, September 06). Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/teen-pregnancy-issues-challenges/ TV Sex Influences Teen Pregnancy. (2015, October 06). Retrieved March 9, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/11/05/tv-sex-influences-teen-pregnancy/3269.html

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