The good news is that the rate of teenage pregnancies has been on a steady year-over-year decline. The bad news – The sheer numbers of teen births remains far higher than most would expect and the consequences for both young mothers and their precious babies are heartbreaking and long-lasting.
According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Guttmacher Institute and other research agencies, three in 10 American girls will get pregnant at least once before age 20. That’s upwards of 750,000 teen pregnancies each year. And nearly a quarter of teen moms will have a second child within 24 months of delivering their firstborn.
While reality shows like MTV’s Teen Mom may make pseudo-celebrities of girls having babies while still in high school. But the true reality is far, far different for those who aren’t on television. Consider these truer-to-life statistics:
- Parenthood is the leading reason that teen girls drop out of school. In fact, more than half of teen mothers never graduate from high school;
- As a result, two percent of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30, which severely limits their lifetime earning potential;
- Despite initial and intense romantic expectations, eight out of 10 teen dads don’t marry the mother of their child.
But the long-term effects of teen pregnancy go beyond the young mother. Research shows that children born to teen moms:
- Have a higher risk for low birth weight and infant mortality;
- Have lower levels of emotional support and cognitive stimulation;
- Are less prepared to learn when they enter kindergarten, setting them on a rough academic road;
- Are more likely to have behavioral problems and chronic medical conditions;
- Are more likely to be incarcerated at some time during adolescence;
- Typically have lower grades and higher dropout rates;
- Are more likely to become teen parents themselves, continuing the cycle for another generation of children.
Teenagers often are all too anxious to begin adult life. But the responsibilities of bearing a child are far too intense to begin at such a young age, and too critically important to both you and your future children to take lightly. Wait. Protect yourself, your future and that of the family you’ll no doubt build in time. And if you’re having a tough time dealing with pressure from your boyfriend or girlfriend to have sex, contact Project SOS at 904-296-9950 to speak with a mentor.