Teenagers in the United States are experimenting with sexual activities more and more today than ever before. According to Charles Krauthammer, “Sex oozes from every pore of the culture and there’s not a kid in the world who can avoid it.” (Meier, 1994, p. 7). Teenagers are surrounded by some sort of sexual connotations all the time. Whether it is television, radio, school, or even the Internet, teenagers are hearing the affects of sex on our society. The price that teenagers pay for being sexually active greatly outweighs any advantages.
The period of puberty occurs somewhere between the ages of 10 and 14 for most but can vary for different people. Heredity, health problems, and emotional and physical stress can cause these variations. Teens begin to experiment with the opposite sex by hugging, kissing and other forms of sexual expression. People are capable of creating babies as soon as puberty begins. Teens also watch more television and listen to more music developing their own unique personalities.
According to one study, about 65,000 sexual acts or comments on prime-time television occur every year (Meier, 1994, p. 9). In the movies or on television, the actors and actresses make sex look easy, fun and glamorous. It appears to be something everyone is doing. On television shows like “Dawson’s Creek”, sex is usually the major topic of the entire show. Whether it is guys and girls, guys and guys, girls and girls, or multiple persons of each sex, the sex act itself is a major conflict. Movies, such as “Cruel Intentions”, portray sex as a game. The main characters are placing bets on each other that one of them will have sex with some girl who is against the idea of premarital sex.
That movie is rated R, but little kids were in there with their parents. Those types of movies are not meant for a young audience. Now those kids might end up having sex when they become teenagers. Those same teenagers might often be the ones that get pregnant. Teenage pregnancy happens so often that people hardly even recognize it anymore as a negative affect on our society.
Experts estimate that the combination of lost tax revenues and increased spending on public assistance, child health care, foster care and the criminal justice system totals about $7 billion annually for births in teens. Despite a 20-year low in the teen pregnancy rate and an impressive decline in the teen birth rate, the United States still has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any industrialized country (Casey Foundation, 1996). That’s not saying a whole lot for our nation. In Kids Having Kids: A Robin Hood Foundation Special Report on the Costs of Adolescent Childbearing, researchers note, “During her first 12 years of parenthood, the average adolescent mother receives income and food stamps valued at just over $17,000 annually..” Recent declines in pregnancy and birth rates, however, are encouraging. The rates keep dropping and are showing no signs of increase, yet.
The rate of pregnancies has dropped from a peak of 117 for every 1,000 young women ages 15 to 19 in 1990, to 101 in 1995. That 14 percent drop brought the rate to its lowest level since 1975 (Casey Foundation, 1996). Rather than deal with a pregnancy after the fact, more teenagers seem to be trying to prevent pregnancies. Teenagers are learning to better use contraceptives and are using them more frequently than before. Some teenagers are aware of the contraceptives available, but they just choose not to use them.
Others may find it difficult and embarrassing to talk to their partners about birth control or contraceptives. Contraceptives such as the condom, Depo-Provera, diaphragm, IUD (intrauterine device), and the pill are effective more than 80% of the time. Some of those, more than 90%. Nine in 10 sexually active women and their partners use a contraceptive method, although not always consistently or correctly. About one in six teenage women practicing contraception combine two methods, primarily the condom with another method (Guttmacher, 1998). The only method effective 100% of the time is abstinence, which means not having sex at all. Although there are contraceptives, they only work so much percent of the time.
The other percent of the time, they will fail and lead to a traumatic downfall for anyone involved. Many consequences are contributed to having sex as a teenager, and even as an adult. Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are gaining more and more publicity. Every year 3 million teens-about 1 in 4 sexually experienced teens-acquire an STD (Guttmacher, 1998). The more common sexually transmitted diseases include HIV (caused by the AIDS virus), herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and genital warts.
Teens have higher rates of contracting gonorrhea than do sexually active men and women aged 20 to 44. Chlamydia is more common among teens than among older men and women; in some settings, 10-29% of sexually active teenage women and 10% of teenage men tested for STDs have been found to have chlamydia (Guttmacher, 1998). Along with the physical status of a sexually active teen, the emotional status can also be depleted. The emotional problems a teenager will feel after becoming sexually active can be overwhelming. Sometimes the stress from friends and family members becomes too much for a teenager to bear. This can often lead to suicide or beating of themselves to kill the baby and make it look like an accident. When a teenager first learns she is pregnant, she often will not tell anyone-not even the baby’s father-about her predicament (Meier, 1994, p. 21).
Holding a secret that immense inside you causes great stress and emotional upset. The teenager may have intense feelings of fear, confusion and depression. In that case, it is a good idea for the girl to get help by talking to a counselor at school or a health clinic. Sooner or later, the pregnant teenager will have to face reality and make some tough choices. She will first have to decide whether or not to have the baby.
If she chooses to have the baby, she will have to decide whether to keep it herself or give it up for adoption. Pregnancy itself is usually a very uncomfortable situation. During the first few months, the pregnant woman will undergo many changes. Morning sickness, tiredness and sudden mood swings are just a few of these changes. Teenagers will most likely not want to go to school feeling like that. After a few months of skipping school and receiving poor grades, the student is most likely to drop out altogether. Every year, about 40,000 teenage girls drop out of high school because they are pregnant (Meier, 1994, p.
24). Many never go back. Young males who become fathers before the age of 20 often do not finish high school, making it more difficult to find a good job. The average woman who becomes a mother before the age of 18 earns about half as much money as the woman who has children at an older age, or has no child at all. One out of every three teenage mother’s turns to welfare to make ends meet (Meier, 1994, p.
24). Because of those mothers, anyone with a job must pay the taxes to keep them on welfare instead of out on the streets. Jobs are too scarce for people with no experience in certain fields of work. Thirty or 40 years ago, it was fairly easy for young people to make lives for themselves after the pregnancy. But the American economy and kinds of jobs have changed. Now a high school graduate will qualify for only lowest paying jobs (Meier, 1994, p.
71). As a result of all these teenagers looking for jobs, the unemployment rates have gone down, and the employment rates have risen. However, teenagers who get the jobs are more likely going to be working at minimum wage, which can cause unemployment. According to the supply and demand curve of economics, higher wages increase the number of workers willing to work but decrease the number of workers employers will hire (Dallas Headquarters, 1997). Teenage parents or just plain teenagers find it difficult to work for minimum wage, and even more difficult to find an employer who will hire them. Some teenagers feel the need to turn to abortion as a way of solving their problems.
I personally feel that abortion should not be accepted in any case other than rape, but that’s not what this paper is about. About 23 states have passed anti-PBA (partial birth abortions) …