The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) appreciates the challenges attributed to teenage pregnancy. Consequently, it has established laws that require governments and societies to look after boys and girls until they become adults. Sedgh, Finer, Bankole, Eilers, and Singh (2015) assert that any deviation from CRC principles and objectives is treated as an infringement on the rights of the child. Thus, the governments, being responsible for children, have to react to these infringements. Research shows that kids from societies and countries that observe child rights do not fall victims of adolescent pregnancy (Sedgh et al., 2015).
They get an opportunity to grow and realize their potential. Conversely, there is adequate proof that children from societies that do not honor child rights are susceptible adolescent pregnancy (Sedgh et al., 2015). Today, teenage pregnancy is not a problem for the developing world. The challenge cuts across all countries. The majority of kids aged between 15 and 17 are sexually active, making them vulnerable to adolescent pregnancy. Exposure to technology at an early age exacerbates the problem. Sedgh et al. (2015) aver that teenage pregnancy limits the healthy growth and empowerment of kids, particularly girls making it difficult for them to realize their potential. Moreover, it is a significant impediment to the realization of the millennium development goals.
Education level, parent’s income, and household poverty are among the factors that contribute to early childbearing. Research shows that contextual factors like access to family planning methods and sexuality education also contribute to adolescent pregnancy (Osaikhuwuomwan & Osemwenkha, 2013). Osaikhuwuomwan and Osemwenkha (2013) argue that the causes of early pregnancy are mainly attributed to cultural, economic, and social factors. Thus, they are beyond the control of the health sector. Cultural representations that touch on sexuality, maternity, adolescence, and interactions amid couples make it difficult for most societies to address the challenge of adolescent pregnancy. In some cultures, motherhood is regarded as a stage towards adulthood and results in one being accorded respect. Osaikhuwuomwan and Osemwenkha (2013) aver, “To become a mother is a pathway to commanding new respect and to becoming a “complete” woman as defined by society” (p. 59). In others words, some societies view teenage pregnancy as a choice that accords an individual meaning and purpose for life.
Despite the value that some societies attribute to teenage pregnancy, it is imperative to realize that the issue is a major social problem. It deprives young girls of their right to pursue education and realize their potential. It cuts short the dreams and aspirations of the troubled youths, particularly girls. Moreover, adolescent pregnancy hinders the professional development of a girl, making it hard for them to secure jobs.
The enormity of the issue of adolescent pregnancy can be explained by analyzing existing data from demographic and health surveys. Research shows that at least 19% of women aged between 20 and 24 have children before their 18th birthday (Brahmbhatt et al., 2014). On the other hand, 3% of women aged between 20 and 24 have children by the age of 15 (Brahmbhatt et al., 2014). The data varies across different regions. Most women who get children before 18 years are from Sub-Saharan Africa. Brahmbhatt et al. (2014) maintain that 28% and 25% of the women are from the West and Central Africa and Eastern and Southern Africa respectively. On the other hand, 4% of the women are from Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Brahmbhatt et al., 2014). Lack of access to sex education, poverty, and poor family planning methods are some of the factors that contribute to most girls from Sub-Saharan Africa getting pregnant at an early age. A study conducted in 2010 found that over 36.4 million women aged between 20 and 24 had their first child before the age of 18 (Brahmbhatt et al., 2014). The figures showed that at least 7.3 million girls aged below 18 gave birth every year (Brahmbhatt et al., 2014). Brahmbhatt et al. (2014) aver that further analysis of the figures revealed that about 20,000 teenage girls gave birth every day.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate the issue of adolescent pregnancy as a significant challenge that affects society across the globe. The study will focus mainly on Latin America as one of the regions that record high rate of teenage pregnancy. The research will analyze the factors that contribute to high rate of adolescent pregnancy in the area and the measures that the governments and societies have taken to address the problem. Results from this phenomenological study will go a long way towards shedding light on the factors that fuel teenage pregnancy in Latin America. They will serve as eye opener to both the governments and public, thus helping them to address the problem. The researcher will gather information regarding the age, education background, race, financial status, family background, and cultural issues of the affected adolescents. The study will rely on secondary data from the existing demographic and health surveys. The researcher will also collect primary data through questionnaires to complement secondary information.
Brahmbhatt, H., Kagesten, A., Emerson, M., Decker, M., Olumide, A., Ojengbede, O.,… Delany-Moretlwe, S. (2014). Prevalence and determinants of adolescent pregnancy in disadvantaged urban settings across five cities. Journal of Adolescent Health, 55(6), 48-57.
Osaikhuwuomwan, J., & Osemwenkha, A. (2013). Adolescents’ perspective regarding adolescent pregnancy, sexuality and contraception. Asian Pacific Journal of Reproduction, 2(1), 58-62.
Sedgh, G., Finer, L., Bankole, A., Eilers, M., & Singh, S. (2015). Adolescent pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates across countries: Levels and recent trends. Journal of Adolescent Health, 56(2), 223-230.