While it’s true that stress can drive a young adolescent into a relationship, there are many other factors at play as well. For example, confirmation that she has conceived a child brings on added stress. She is too young to face this emotional challenge and unable to decide what to do regarding the pregnancy. Furthermore, a large number of negative effects follow a teenage pregnancy, a major one being a social stigma. This has been proved by research studies galore.
To go into details about the traumatic effects of teenage pregnancy, one must first understand what trauma is. Trauma is a response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that shatters one’s sense of security, causing feelings of fear, helplessness, or terror. Teenage pregnancy can be a traumatic experience for many reasons. First, the physical changes that occur during pregnancy can be overwhelming and scary. Second, the teen may feel like she is losing control of her body and her life. Third, the responsibility of caring for a baby can be paralyzing. Fourth, the social stigma attached to teenage pregnancy can be isolating and shaming. Fifth, the financial burden of raising a child can be overwhelming. All of these factors can lead to symptoms of trauma, such as flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
An adolescent’s age is somewhere between 10 and 19 years. Getting pregnant at this age can be life-threatening. Mortality rates for pregnant teenagers are four times higher than for women aged 25 and 29 years. The unborn child is at increased risk, too. For girls falling into the age bracket of 10 to 14, it is even worse. Should they have live births, the infant is likely to die soon or face serious health challenges.
Teenage pregnancy can make it difficult for the girl to continue her education and the drop-out rate is high. Even though 61% of adolescents wait till the age of 20 or 21 to have babies and can therefore complete high school, this still contrasts greatly to the 41% of girls who give birth to children before they have completed 18 years of age.
The young mother finds it difficult to keep up with her peers academically, often having to repeat classes and scoring poorly on standardized tests. This makes it unlikely that she will graduate.
Lacking the necessary skills due to a lack of proper education makes it difficult to find a job and a steady income.
Most teenage pregnancies result in the mother taking public assistance, or welfare. Most of these teens are unmarried and over 75% of them ask for support within five years of becoming mothers. Poverty-stricken teenagers may view pregnancy as a way to receive financial support from the child’s father, as a means to escape from desperate poverty. However, this is not always the case. Many fathers do not stick around to support the child financially, leaving the burden on the mother.
Children born to teenage parents are more likely to experience retarded psycho-social development and malnutrition effects. This is because a teenage mother is still developing herself and lacks the parenting skills of a more mature mother. She fails to understand what her child needs and does not realize the importance of smiling, touching or verbally communicating with her child. Anger against society is often taken out on the child and physical abuse is possible.
When teenage mothers have children, their children often exhibit behavioral tendencies which are deemed socially unacceptable. This is in fact the worst effect of a teenage pregnancy. The son can become a criminal offender and land up in prison – the rate is three times more for these boys than for boys of mothers who did not have teenage pregnancies. The daughter may follow in the footsteps of her mother and become a victim of teenage pregnancy herself. Therefore, teenage pregnancy not only affects the mother, but also her children.