Teen Pregnancy Trends
Much attention has been paid to the issue of teen pregnancy over the
past fifteen years, with very good reason. Although the trend of
unmarried births to teens has continually declined over the past
decade, the need to get the message out that waiting until adulthood
is best for all family members is still critical. Currently, the
trend of births to young, unmarried parents is on the increase and
there are serious concerns for all family members of pregnant or
parenting teens. The number of single parent families has increased
dramatically over the past few decades. Currently, more than half of
all children do not live with both parents (McLanahan, Donahue &
Like the national trends, Missouri teen pregnancy rates are on a decline, but there are still slightly more than 8,600 births to teens annually. Additionally, the rate of teen pregnancies for the Hispanic population is on the rise. From 1995 until 2005, the number of pregnancies among Hispanic girls increased by 140 percent, and the number of live births to Hispanic girls increased by 178 percent. At the same time, Caucasian girls are experiencing a slow but steady decline in rate of live births. The rate among African-American girls has declined most rapidly – going from a high of 109.8 per 1,000 girls in 1995 to a low of 71.6 by 2005. Rates among Caucasian girls dropped from 46.1 to a low of 35.9 per1,000 girls.
The teen pregnancy trends are improving, but the need to address
the issue of teen pregnancy holds steadfast. The United States still
has the highest rates of teen pregnancy, birth and abortion in the
fully industrialized world (National Campaign to Prevent Pregnancy,
2002). The effects of these pregnancies have a negative impact on
the family system. In order to combat these negative affects,
pregnancy prevention programs must continue to educate youth on the
effects of pregnancy for the child, the teen and the family system.
Impact of Teen Pregnancy on the Family
Impact on the child
Poverty is another concern for children born to teen moms. In Missouri, 35 percent of all children live below the poverty level, and 66 percent of those children live in a single parent home (National Center for Children and Poverty, 2006). The discrepancy between two parent and single parent families is severe—the poverty rate for children living in married households is 8.4 percent whereas for children living in female headed households it is 38.4 percent.
Impact on the parents
These young parents are much more susceptible to depression and other mental health problems, have fewer economic resources and less opportunity for meaningful employment (Benson, 2004). Additionally, young mothers have less financial, emotional or parental support from the baby’s father (National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2002). Although most unwed young couples are interested in marriage at the time of the baby’s birth, 80 percent of all teen parents will not keep a romantic connection with their babies’ parent (Mincy, Pouncy, Reichert, & Richardson, 2004). For most low income, unwed parents, the reality is that they will live in poverty and raise their children with little to no contact with the other parent.
Impact on the extended family
Benson, M. (2004). After the adolescent pregnancy: Parents, teens and families. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal. 21, 435-455.
Bunting, L., & McAuley, C. (2004). Research
Review: teenage pregnancy and
Child Trends, (2004). Births and related
outcomes. Retrieved June, 7, 2006 from:
McLanahan, S., Donahue, E. & Haskins, R. (2005). Introducing the issue. Marriage and Child Wellbeing: The Future of Children, 15, 3-12.
National Campaign to Prevent Pregnancy,
(2002). Not just a single issue. Retrieved
Nock, S. (2005). Marriage as a public issue. Marriage and Child Wellbeing: The Future of Children, 15, 13-32.
Mincy, R., Pouncy, H., Reichert, D. & Richardson, P. (2004). Fragile families in focus: How low-income never married parents perceive relationships and marriage. Retrieved June 1, 2006 from http://www.state.la.us/
National Center for Children and Poverty, 2006. Demographics of Poor Children: Missouri. Retrieved June 12, 2006 from: http://www.nccp.org/
Last Updated 05/05/2009