The society in which adolescents grow up has an important influence on their development, relationships, adjustments and comprehensive life challenges. Teenagers in South Africa live in a society that is undergoing rapid technological changes. Children as young as seven years old have their own cell phones. Adolescent in South Africa also engaged in Mxit, Facebook, Wechat and other way of chatting to each other via cell phones. It is estimated that more than one billion people worldwide use the internet. More adolescents are raised by single parents or foster care as a result of the high extramarital birth rate, divorce rate and HIV/AIDS. The high rate of drug abuse to teenagers and poverty are the challenges that the youth of South Africa are facing today.
Most teenagers spend a lot of time looking in the mirror or examining body parts in detail, and it does not end there, but also become more interested in that of others. They become more fascinated with basic facts about human reproduction. Gradually they become interested in sexual experimentation with others. Part of this is motivated by curiosity, part by a desire for sexual stimulation and release, part by a need for love, affection, intimacy, and acceptance from another person.
There are many reasons that drive teenagers towards sex. Some teenagers do sex just because they want a quick fix to relieve biological drives. But often adolescent sexuality is driven by emotional needs that have nothing to do with sex. These emotional needs include the desire to receive affection, ease loneliness, gain acceptance, confirm masculinity or felinity, booster self-esteem, express anger, or escape from boredom. Sex becomes a means of expressing and satisfying nonsexual needs.
According to Tips on pregnancy: pregnancy guide (2005) teenage is a delicate stage of life when both girls and boys may indulge themselves in certain irresponsible activities and end up being unexpected mothers and the fathers. When parents come to know about their daughter’s pregnancy they general have mixed reactions. They first get extremely angry accusing their daughters for the sense of irresponsibility they have shown. The expectations they had for their dearest suddenly appear to be vague and an almost sheer impossibility. They go on wondering how their child will be able to fulfil the responsibility of parenthood and at the same time seek for respectable and successful careers.
On the other hand, some parents consider themselves responsible for their daughters’ wrongdoings. They consider that there is something missing in their method of upbringing, which has given their daughters an opportunity of degrading their self-esteem. All in all, there are many factors that can lead to teenage pregnancy.
Current studies indicate that teenagers become sexually active in early puberty. During this time, the teenager is faced with various challenges such as the onset of menstruation in girls and wet dreams in boys. Compared to urban areas, the incidence of teenage pregnancy, abortion and childbirth is significantly higher in rural areas. These teenagers become sexually active at an early stage and without using any form of contraceptives
Adolescent pregnancy affects the emotional, social, physical, and economic well-being of the teenage parent and child. When a pregnant teenager is emotionally disturbed she ends up taking wrong decisions. Sowetan (2010) stated that a desperate teenage mother abandoned her one-year-old toddler because the child no longer fits into her lifestyle. Another child aged between one and three was discovered in Mayibuye section of Thembisa. The number of abandoned children in South Africa is steadily increasing. Child Welfare South Africa recorded 2392 new cases of abandonment over the past year with the majority being black. Current statistics put the figures of abandonment at: Black-1500, coloured-700, Indians-70 to 80 and white-3 (Sowetan, 2010)
Teenage pregnancy among blacks is proportionately higher than any other racial group. In the United States, Black teenagers make up only 15 percent of the adolescent population, yet account for 31 percent of all births to adolescents and 44 percent of all births to unmarried adolescent. This means the issue of teenage pregnancy was a problem long time ago, but it looks like it is deteriorating. As these teenagers do not want to use the reliable means of birth control, the number of premarital pregnancies among 15- to 19- year olds has skyrocketed to over 1 million a year.
Teenage pregnancy can lead to depression, poor school performance and emotional instability. The teenager develops fear of the unknown with regards to abandonment by a boyfriend or deprivation. A strong relationship between teenage pregnancy and depression can also be assumed. Depression is associated with impaired decision-making, lack of motivation and a low self-esteem. Amongst girls, pregnancy reflects an attitude of passivity and of not caring about what happens in their lives. Some teenagers fall pregnant because they are assertive.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
The following concepts need to be defined so as to prevent any ambiguity that may result from their misinterpretation. These terms, and the accompanying definitions follows.
According to the Oxford dictionary, cause is a thing that produces an effect.
Pregnancy can be referred to as a process whereby a female carries a live offspring from the time of conception to childbirth.
Pregnancy is the state in which a foetus develops in the uterus of a woman of childbearing age, during the period from conception to birth (South African Concise Oxford Dictionary 2005).
Adolescence is a period of transition between childhood and adulthood. It commences with physical changes at puberty. It terminates with assumption of adult roles and responsibilities, e.g. economic, social, political, legal and sexual independence.
others defines adolescence as the life period that begins with the onset of puberty and the shift to the middle school and ends when an individual is economically self-sufficient and has taken on several adult roles. The adolescent is any person, usually between the ages of 11 and 19, who has clearly started the search for a personal identity
According to Gouws, at al, (2008:2), the term ‘adolescent’ derived from the Latin verb adolescere, meaning to grow up or to grow to adulthood., thus referring to a development phase in the human life cycle that is situated between childhood and adulthood.
Adolescence is an important period for one’s educational attainment, especially with regard to the completion of high school and preparation for ones’ vocation.
Furthermore, adolescence is an important period of a person’s psychosocial development. The word teenager is used interchangeable with adolescent.
The time in a girl's life when menstruation first begins. During the menarche period, menstruation may be irregular and unpredictable. Also known as female puberty
Teenage pregnancy can be defined as a teenage or underage girl, usually within the age of 13-19, becoming pregnant. The term in everyday speech usually refers to women who have not reached legal adulthood, which varies across the world, who become pregnant.
Quantitatively teenage pregnancy refers to the fertility rate or number of births per 1 000 women between the ages 15-19.
Teenage pregnancy or teenage mothers are therefore those adolescents between 15-19 years of age that are pregnant or had a baby.
Teenage pregnancy is pregnancy in human females under the age of 20 at the time that the pregnancy ends. A pregnancy can take place in a pubertal female before menarche (the first menstrual period), which signals the possibility of fertility, but usually occurs after menarche. In well-nourished girls, menarche usually takes place around the age of 12 or 13.
Pregnant teenagers face many of the same obstetrics issues as women in their 20s and 30s. There are, however, additional medical concerns for mothers aged 15. For mothers aged 15–19, risks are associated more with socioeconomic factors than with the biological effects of age. However, research has shown that the risk of low birth weight is connected to the biological age itself, as it was observed in teen births even after controlling for other risk factors (such as utilization of antenatal care etc.).
Teenage pregnancy refers to pregnancy of a woman of less than 19 years. It is found commonly amongst young people who have been disadvantaged and have poor family background with regard to either their education, poverty stricken or job market. Adolescents may lack knowledge of access to conventional methods of preventing pregnancy, as they may be afraid to seek such information. Other defines teenage pregnancy as an unintended pregnancy during adolescence.
HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF TEENAGE PREGNANCY
Teenage pregnancy has come very much into the public debate in recent year, at least partly as a result of three social forces. Firstly, child poverty rates are high and rising. Secondly, the number of welfare recipients and concomitant costs of public assistance rising dramatically. And thirdly, among those on welfare, we see a much higher proportion of never-married women, younger women, and women average long period of dependency.
The rising of incidence of adolescent mothers throughout South Africa causes concern and is becoming a critical issue. This happens in spite of free contraceptives services, including emergency contraception. As from 1996 in South Africa pregnant women are able to terminate their pregnancy (irrespective of age), at their request during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Despite of that legislation the adolescent mothers have failed to use the available family planning, emergency contraceptive or termination of pregnancy services (available free of charge at clinics). This has been reflected by an increased number of abandoned babies.
Some cultures are very accepting of young parents. For them, a teenager who has a couple of children by the time she is eighteen is simply doing what her mother and grandmother did before her. The teenager might be a part of a supportive, caring community and have friends embarking on motherhood at the same time as her. Young mothers and fathers are well looked after and shown how to care for their babies. There are people around who will watch the baby for them and give them a break.
In Western societies, young parents are given a hard time. They can be accused of being irresponsible, selfish, careless and immature. They are thrown out of their homes when they tell their parents they are pregnant. The parents feel ashamed and worried about what their relatives and neighbours will say. They may feel that all the opportunities for the future of their daughter have been dashed.
Teenage pregnancy has increased all over the world and seen as a great concern in South Africa. Most pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers are found in areas that are economically poor.
It is true that teenagers cannot raise their children alone while they are still at school. Due to inability to provide adequately for their children, pregnant or parenting adolescents are most likely to drop out of school, receive less educational attainment, exhibit lower educational achievement than peers. They are also less likely to live in poverty, receive welfare, and have low income