teen pregnancy

teen pregnancy

The State of a Woman’s Union

abstinence, Christianity, cohabitation, feminism, intact family, marriage, religion, sexuality, teen pregnancy, women's health No comments

By Lindsay Smith, Intern
 

Dear Florida,

I heard that you are spending $45,000to research women’s sexuality within your borders.  Apparently, this information is quite valuable to you.  I know you are offering gift cards if women will complete surveys on this topic.  Good news, I think I can provide you with some answers to your search – no gift card necessary. 

Abundant research has shown that disruption within a family structure increases the likelihood of sexual debut for children. “Women whose parents separated during childhood are more likely to have an out-of-wedlock teenage pregnancy, and men with divorced or separated parents are more likely to father a child with a teenage mother.”  As expected, women from intact-married families have the lowest risk of teenage sexual debut, and fewer partners.  Marriage positively affects not only the children, but also the man and woman in the union.  Since your survey touches on a woman’s emotional well-being in relation to sex, you really should know that married couples find their sexual relationship more satisfying than cohabiters do.”

Based on your survey’s questions, I see you are curious about religious affiliation.  You were wise to ask.  According to MARRI’s publication “The Benefits of Religious Worship,” females who attend religious worship weekly are less likely than their peers to sexually debut as a teen, have a premarital pregnancy, or abort their first pregnancy. The Christian abstinence program “True Love Waits” produces similar effects for its participants.  The American Journal of Sociology’s article “Promising the Future: Virginity Pledges and First Intercourse” reports that, on average, pledging decreases the risk of sexual debut even for those in a dating relationship. 

Combining regular worship attendance with an always-intact family bolsters these effects.  As seen in diagrams here, hereand here, MARRI research verifies that teens attending weekly worship with an always-intact family are least likely to sexually debut as a teen or have a premarital pregnancy. 

Florida, you mentioned your hope “to design the state’s service offerings, including pamphlets and counseling,” based on the survey’s findings. How about offering marriage counseling to strengthen families?  What if your pamphlets included the benefits of an abstinence pledge? 

Well, I hope this letter has helped.  In case you find the survey a bit superfluous now, it is almost Christmas, and gift cards make great gifts.

Put Your Money Where Your Marriage Is

culture, human capital, marriage, mothers, poverty, religion, teen pregnancy No comments
Lindsay Smith, Intern

“16 and Pregnant,” “Teen Moms,” and countless other reality shows have popularized and perhaps even glamorized the lives of unmarried mothers in our society.   In addition, the trend of popular female celebrities becoming single mothers furthers the attention.  While Hollywood portrays this family structure as desirable and even empowering for women, the true hardships of single motherhood are not always given their just time in the spotlight.  Let me be clear, I applaud single and unwed mothers for choosing life for their babies, a valiant decision in a culture which all but hands them a “get out of motherhood free” card.  No, the solution to the plight of the single mother does not come from abortion, but rather from Marriage. 

The Houston Chronicle recently released an article titled Figures show struggle worsening for single mothers,” which shares the stories and struggles of several single moms straining to make ends meet.  According to the article, “41 percent of households headed by single women with children live in poverty – nearly triple the national poverty rate, according to 2010 census data.”  This percentage alone should seize our attention.  However, combine it with the fact that more than half of single mothers over age twenty rely on public assistance, and these statistics don’t softly whisper for concern.   They deafeningly cry for action – or should I say results.  Many in government have championed action through the years: job training, GED programs, welfare.  These actions seem to only create a treadmill – lots of movement but no upward mobility – and find many of their recipients in the same place year after year.  At the article’s conclusion, Robert Rector from the Heritage Foundation summarizes it best: “The welfare state has been about picking up the pieces from non-marital births, and it’s not working. The reality is that you can’t create a substitute father.”
MARRI’s studies confirm Mr. Rector’s assertion.  An intact married family has the highest average income and net worth and experiences less poverty than other family types, all of which carries over to their children’s well-being.  On the reverse side, according to these studies, “A non-intact family background increases by over 50 percent a boy’s odds of ending up in the lowest socioeconomic level.”  Family structure has not only immediate effects but also intergenerational effects on a child’s economic status.  Females who grow up in an intact married family are far less likely to have a non-marital pregnancy than those who were raised in an always single-parent family.  In case anyone is tempted to think this only applies to single mothers, studies also show married men have a higher rate of employment than single men.   Let’s not forget that God’s design was to give Adam both a job and a helper, who was Eve.  Speaking of God’s design, learning about His plan for marriage and family appears to significantly affect this female demographic.  The Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Survey reports that “urban mothers who attend church frequently are at least 70 percent more likely to be married when they give birth or to get married within one year of a nonmarital birth than are urban mothers who do not attend church frequently.”
As one of the moms in the Chronicle article poignantly expresses, “Sometimes I think I’m in a big hole and I can’t see the light, but then I know God is big and there’s something big for me.”  And she is right.  Perhaps we should all stop asking people what their temporary aid for single mothers would be, and remind ourselves of God’s unchanging, perfect (and big) plan for the family.

Reality Check: What Do Teens Really Want?

abstinence, contraception, marriage, teen pregnancy 1 comment
Katie Staudt, Intern
 
A project to prevent teen pregnancy was recently launched by the City of Baltimore’s Health Department called “Know What U Want.” From the campaign’s title, it appears to be an admirable undertaking. After all, no one wants teen pregnancy nor does anyone object to empowering teens to know what they want in life. However, on their website, teens will only discover how to choose their method of birth control and learn how to “get the goods” (which teens are assured can done without their parents’ knowledge). Is this really empowering teens to know what they want? Well, not according to social science.
Such a campaign presupposes that what teens want is sex and the only thing left to “know” is what method of birth control is best for them. But the reality is sex is not ultimately what teens want. While it is true that many teens engage in sex (nearly 48% of all high schoolers), a majority realize afterward that sex and hooking up is not all that it’s cracked up to be. In fact, research shows that 91% of girls who “hook up” have regrets due to guilt or feeling used, and 80% wish it never happened. Even MTV reports that nearly 2/3 of teens wish they had waited to have sex.
Of course, this same data could be used to suggest we need to help that small percentage of teens who don’t have regrets know what birth control they want. But, the reality is teens who begin sexual activity at a young age are likely to deal with permanent negative physical, psychological, social and economic consequences that they might not immediately realize. A Heritage research report shows that sexually active teens have a higher probability of becoming infected by STDs, fall into depression, and eventually have unstable marriages and live in poverty.
Even with all these facts, it might seem worthwhile to give teens “what they want” to at least prevent teen pregnancy. But, the reality is a number of studies have shown that contraceptives do not prevent teen pregnancy. In fact, a recent study conducted by  a professor from Duke and Yale found that“programs that increase access to contraception are found to decrease teen pregnancies in the short run but increase teen pregnancies in the long run.”
Teens, like all humans, want happiness and fulfillment. Even though some seek happiness in sex, they haven’t found it there. So if we really are trying to empower teens to know what they want, perhaps we should begin by explaining how we are designed as humans as well as the negative consequences when we go against our design and positive outcomes when we live in line with it. It also might not be a bad idea to promote healthy families and worshipbecause, in reality (see hereand here), that’s where the most happiness is found.

“17 Filles”

education, fathers, marriage, poverty, teen pregnancy No comments
MARRI Interns
Raising children is something that is considered to be serious but very rewarding; it is not to be taken lightly. However, a recent movie, 17 Filles (“17 Girls”), by French directors Delphine and Muriel Coulin, demeans and trivializes what it takes and what it means to raise children. The arthouse film is based on the events at Gloucesterhigh school when 17 girls made a pact to all get pregnant and raise their children together. While there was overall displeasure with the events at Gloucester high school, 17 Filles in many ways encourages and glorifies these ambitious young women. The movie depicts the main character Camille as having killer looks and a Mean Girls-ish personality. She convinces the other envious girls that “having a bun in the oven is way cooler than having lots of friends on Facebook.”
Not only does this movie trivialize the responsibilities of raising children, but it also fails to convey the importance of raising children in an intact home. According to R. Rector: Analysis of CPS, in 2001 there were 3.93 million children living in poverty (See “Child’s Right to Marriage of Parents“). If those same parents were married, 3.17 million of those same children would leave poverty.
In addition, children living with a never married mother are 4.3 times more likely to get expelled or suspended from school than those living in an intact home. Finally, according to the Adolescent Health Survey, children raised in an intact home achieve significantly higher GPA’s than those living with a never-married mother, 2.9 v 2.5.
 
While single mothers should not be condemned or looked down upon, it is wrong to encourage and praise deliberately raising children without a father and completely dismiss the consequences.