When a teen gets pregnant, she can easily feel overwhelmed by the large responsibility ahead of her. Certainly, teens that give birth are typically not properly equipped to handle the large task of parenting. They lack the financial, psychological, and emotional stability. In addition to school, family responsibilities, the relationship with her boyfriend, and maintaining her own mental health, caring for the life of a child can be challenging. In fact, for this reason, many teens drop out of school when they get pregnant. And their lives might be completely altered in other ways as well.
For this reason, the Office of Adolescent Health has identified 35 different evidence based practices that are being used around the country to prevent teen pregnancy. Evidence based programs are those that have proven to be effective over time. In clinical trials and research experiments, these practices have provided evidence that they work. In general, the field of psychology is leaning towards the use of evidence practices because experts know that they are reliable in their results. When it comes to teen pregnancy, knowing that a program can help reduce the number of teens that get pregnant can be reassuring to parents and professionals who want to find ways to support adolescents.
Fortunately, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the teen pregnancy rate has been falling by half since 1991. Nonetheless, the numbers are still high. Research indicates that one in every seven female teens will have a child before the age of 20. In general, the birth rate for girls between the ages of 15-19 is 29 per every 1000.
One interesting fact is that those female teens with a mental illness tend to be more vulnerable to engaging in sexual activity and getting pregnant. Compared to the statistic provided above for mentally healthy teens, birth rate among adolescents with a mental illness is approximately 45 for every 1000.
Furthermore, another danger for teens who get pregnant is that they tend to also use drugs or drink. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than half of pregnant teens admitted using drugs or alcohol in the month prior to entering treatment for substance abuse. Medical research shows that females who use drugs while pregnant contribute to a developing addiction in their unborn child, which may lead to the child having physical and psychological concerns throughout their development. Health problems both before and after birth are compounded for both the mother and child when a female teen uses substances.
For all these reasons, a community often welcomes programs that facilitate the well being of female adolescents and that prevent against pregnancy. Some of these programs include:
- Families Talking Together
- Becoming a Responsible Teen
- Be Proud! Be Responsible!
- Get Real
- Draw the Line / Respect the Line
- Health Improvement Project for Teens (HIP Teens)
- Raising Healthy Children
- Making Proud Choices!
Many of these programs are provided in both Spanish and English. To see a full list of all the programs suggested by the Office of Adolescent Health, check out this report.