Saturday, August 17, 2019

Research Papaer Essay

The terms ‘youth’, ‘teenager’, ‘adolescent’, and ‘young people’ are all used to describe people in the phase of life that marks the conversion from childhood to adulthood. While there is universal agreement on the transition from childhood to adolescence, when exactly adolescence ends and adulthood begins is less clear as the stage of adolescence is culture-specific and therefore different in every society. In some cultures, the transition from teenager to adult could be very short, while, in other cultures it could be longer (Govindasamy et al. 2002). The World Health Organization (WHO, 2009) defines ‘adolescents’ as people aged 10-19; ‘youth’ as those aged between 15-24; and ‘young people’ as those aged between 10 and 24 years old and ‘teenager’ as people aged 13-19 years. Traore (2010) agrees that age has been used to differentiate adolescents from teenagers based on their physi cal development. This study, however, prefer to take females in the age group between 13 to 19 years as ‘teenagers’. In this study, the term ‘teenagers’ was used throughout. The incidence of teenage pregnancy remains high around the world. According to Nanda (2006), teenage females give birth to 15 million infants every year. Thus, teenage pregnancy is a concern from both a human rights and a public health perspective. Teenage pregnancy and its effect on teenage motherhood are among the major societal problems confronting the contemporary global community (Gatara & Muriuki, 2005). In Ghana, for example, one report estimates that nearly one-third of the childbirths recorded in public hospitals occurred to women under 19 years of age (Xinhua, 2006). The prevalence is higher in the rural areas and small- to-medium-sized towns which are often under-represented in the hospital birth statistics. A survey conducted by the UN Regional Institute for Population Studies reported that one out of three girls aged 15 to 19 living in Ghana’s Central Region has had a child (Xinhua, 2006). Similar prevalence of teenage pregnancies have been described for other African countries (Mwansa et aI. , 2004). One study in Swaziland found that females aged 15-19 years accounted for 32. per cent of the total fertility (Gule, 2005). Another study reported that females in the same age group contributed 103 births per 1000 women in the Kenya (Gatara ; Muriuki, 2005). It has been estimated that at least one out of twenty girls is likely to give birth during the school-going age. Data for Botswana also show that by 2004, about 25 percent of girls 15-19 years old were already mothers (Curtis, 2008). Two years later, in 2006, 56 per cent of the girls ha d dropped out of secondary schools in the country due to pregnancy (Mashalaba, 2009). On explaining the factors that contribute to teenage pregnancy, (Anderson, 2001) found that in poor neighbourhoods, teenagers experience less control over many aspects of their lives than the non-poor.. Anderson (2001) has further reported that some impoverished teenage girls consider childbirth as a rare source of self-esteem, or a sign of growing up, while sexual conquest brings a feeling of accomplishment to some teenage boys to whom legitimate opportunities may be blocked (Farley, 2005). The discussion of teenage pregnancy and childbirth therefore, tends to characterise the problem as mainly a feature of the poor segment of society. Besides, a literature review (Lewis, 2006; 2009) shows that aside poverty, factors such as early exposure to sexual activity, lack of sex education, weak parental control and supervision, peer pressure, low self-esteem and the need for self-fulfillment are associated with teenage pregnancy. It is in light of these factors that this study seeks to assess the factors that influence teenage pregnancy and their effects in the Sunyani Municipality in order to help policy makers address the problem. 1. 2 Problem Statement Teenage pregnancy has long been a worldwide social and educational concern for the developed, developing and underdeveloped countries. Many countries continue to experience high incidence of teenage pregnancy despite the intervention strategies that have been put in place. In 2000 approximately 530,000 teenagers in the United States became pregnant, out of which 51% gave birth (Coley ; Chase-Lansdale, 2008). Available literature suggests that in Africa, the total fertility rate has declined to an average of 2. 9 children per woman (Dickson, 2002). A decline in fertility rates has been associated with a high use of contraceptives among women and also the legalisation of abortion in most African countries (Swartz, 2002). Despite the decline in the total fertility rate, teenage pregnancy has been found to be significantly high (Dickson, 2002). The high prevalence of teenage pregnancy in societies characterised by poverty, low education, fewer job opportunities and families headed by mothers who gave birth to their first children in adolescence (Dryfoos, 2006; Macleod, 2009). Teenage pregnancy is also associated with other problematic behaviours such as alcohol and drug use, and early initiation of sexual activity, which have been identified as predictors of pregnancy (Coley ; Chase-Lansdale, 2008). Plant and Plant (2002) argue that risk or problem behaviour is associated with social disadvantage, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, bad housing, fragmented family structure and stressful life events. The youth emulate the behaviour of their parents and of their society, thus social and cultural factors influence patterns of risk taking (Plant ; Plant, 2002). The high incidence of teenage pregnancy has become a major societal and educational concern, as it seems to perpetuate poverty and low levels of education (Furstenberg et al. , 2007; Morgan, 2007). Also due to changing social circumstances and values, teenage pregnancy is a tolerated phenomenon in modern Ghanaian society. Social permissiveness towards sex outside marriage, and absence of serious social repercussions like isolation or exclusion following an out of wedlock birth, contribute to the high rate of teenage pregnancy (Parekh ; De La Rey, 2007). It has also been argued by Preston-Whyte and Zondi (2002) that the high value placed on fertility and education encourages adolescent girls to aspire for both motherhood and academic qualifications. The high cultural value placed on education and fertility is seen as a contributory factor to the prevalence of teenage pregnancy (Preston-Whyte ; Zondi, 2002). Education and the link employment prospects enhances the possibility of improved quality of life and thus may be one of the factors that encourage adolescent to continue with school after child birth (Kaufman et al. , 2001). Even though pregnant teenagers may not officially be prevented from remaining at school, realistically, due to the demands of parenting, they may be forced to drop out of school, for example, in instances where there is no one to look after the child while the teenage mother continues with her schooling. Sometimes the pregnant teenager feels isolated from her peers. She may be embarrassed by her condition and have difficulty fitting in with her non-pregnant peers and as a result may drop out of school. Parenting teenagers often have to deal with strained family relationships. Sometimes parents react with anger to the pregnant teenagers. She may be blamed or ostracised for causing a problem (Cervera, 2004). Consequently, she may not get assistance and support from her family members forcing her to drop out of school in order to raise her child. Based on the aforementioned problems and its effect on the teenager, child, family and the society, this study seeks to assess the factors that influence teenage pregnancy and their effects in the Sunyani Municipality in order to help policy makers address the problem. It has been established that there has not been any similar study concerning teenage pregnancy and their effects on teenagers at the Sunyani Zongo community. Although there have been countless cases of teenage pregnancy in the community depriving affected teenagers from furthering their basic education. The aged in the community based on interaction with the researcher revealed that people come to the community to seek the support of the residents in response to their questionnaires, their projects aimed at other relevant community related problems but none of them is focused on teenage pregnancy. 1. 3 Justification of the Study Little attention has been given to psychological variables and processes that predict the occurrence of teenage pregnancy (Coley ; Chase-Lansdale, 2008). Most literature focuses on social factors, which predispose teenagers to falling pregnant. Pregnancy may cause psychological distress, as it is often associated with dropping out of school, either before or shortly after childbirth (Zondi, 2002). Teenage mothers are more likely to present with symptoms of depression when compared with their non-parenting peers and older mothers (Kalil ; Kunz, 2000). The transition to motherhood puts teenagers at a greater risk for psychological distress because they are socially, cognitively and emotionally immature to cope with the demands of motherhood. This study examines the experiences of pregnant learners, both in a scholastic and personal context. It assesses how these learners are affected by the demands of coexisting motherhood and adolescence. There appears to be little research done on how Ghanaian pregnant adolescent learners perceive their situation and how they cope with the demands of adolescence and of motherhood. The results drawn from the study would form a basis for further research on the psychological effects of pregnancy during teenagers and may also be of value to designing intervention strategies. 1. 4 Research Objectives The study focused on the following objectives. 1. 5 General Objective To assess the factors that influence teenage pregnancy and their effects in the Sunyani Municipality (SM) in order to recommend policy actions for policy makers. 1. 5. 1 Specific objectives This study intended: To assess the influence of socio-economic status on teenage pregnancy; To identify the effect of peer pressure on teenage pregnancy; and To examine mass media exposure and its effect on teenage pregnancy. To assess the effects of teenage pregnancy in the Sunyani Municipality. ` To make recommendations based on the findings of the study. . 5 Research Questions Based on the specific objectives of the study, the research seeks answers to the following questions: What is the influence and effects of socio-economic status on teenage pregnancy in the SM? What are the influences and effects of peer pressure on teenage pregnancy in the SM? How does the mass media exposure impact on teenage pregnancy? What are the co nsequences of teenage pregnancy in the Sunyani Municipality? 1. 6 Significance of the Study The outcome of this study will provide useful information about the psychological well-being of pregnant teenagers. This will assist mental health professionals in developing appropriate psycho-educational programmes to address the psychosocial challenges associated with teenage pregnancy and motherhood. Furthermore, the findings of the study will help to inform public debate that could lead to the development of appropriate policies on how to deal with the challenge of teenage pregnancy and motherhood. Also victims of teenage pregnancy will get the opportunity to disclose information about their experiences in order to help in their addressing problems. Considering the nature of this study, including student affairs professionals, counsellors or psychologists, and those interested in woman’s issues would be assisted to identify the factors associated with teenage pregnancy in the Sunyani Municipality and their effects on the teenager, the child and the society. Future researchers, who would study into determinants of teenage pregnancy in the Municipality, would also have a complement or a basis for their literature review. Finally, the research is likely to raise questions leading to further research. 1. 7 Scope of the Study For feasibility purposes, the study focused on how socio-economic status; peer pressure and early exposure to sexual activity by the mass media influence teenage pregnancy and their effects on the teenager, child and the society. The study considered school going teenagers who dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy in the Sunyani Municipality. In the study, a pregnant teenager was pregnant girl aged 13 to 19 years. Besides, psychological effects in this study referred to the presence of symptoms related to somatic complaints, anxiety and insomnia, social isolation, and depression. The current study focused on pregnant teenagers who were drawn from the Sunyani Municipality who attended antenatal clinic (ANC) at the Sunyani Municipal Hospital (SMH) during the period of data collection. 1. 7 Delimitation Even though the study was carried out in Sunyani Municipality, concentration was on teenagers at Sunyani Zongo community considering the fact that they have stake in the topic understudy. This research was conducted within the following parameters: the influence and effects of socio-economic status on teenage pregnancy: he influence and effects of peer pressure on teenage pregnancy:: the influence and effects of mass media exposure on teenage pregnancy: the consequences of teenage pregnancy on teenagers. 1. 8 Organisation of the Chapters The research is in five different chapters. In the first chapter, an insight is given as to what the study is all about with the statement of research problem, research questions and objectives, significance of the study, limitat ions of the study, and the organization of the essay. In the second chapter, an overview of relevant materials related to the study is discussed. In the third chapter, the researcher presents the methodology used in the study; chapter 4 will focus on the presentation and analysis of data, and the final chapter will look at the conclusions and recommendations. CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW 2. 1 Introduction This chapter reviewed several selected studies which relate to the topic. The chapter focused on literature related to socio-economic status and teenage pregnancy; peer pressure and teenage pregnancy, mass media exposure and teenage pregnancy as well as the effects of teenage pregnancy 2. 2 Socio-economic status and Teenage Pregnancy It has been revealed that teenage pregnancy is often associated with low socio-economic status ( Dryfoos, 2006). Economically disadvantaged teenagers are characterised by low levels of education and lack of employment opportunities (Preston-Whyte & Zondi, 2002). Certain family characteristics have also been identified as factors that put teenagers at risk of becoming pregnant in early life. Factors such as poverty, single parent families –especially the female headed households, poorly educated parents have been associated with teenage pregnancy (Furstenberg et al. , 2007). Teenagers from one-parent headed families are apt to suffer from deprivations that may lead them to seek affection, security and a sense of significance elsewhere (Chillman, 2006). There are two contrasting views on the subject of single parenting. In some sources it is argued that most parenting adolescents have been found to come from impoverished single parent families, which are often headed by a female (Swartz, 2002). In the other source, children raised in single parent families are more likely to have been victims of an unstable family environment, have experienced a divorce or parental conflict (Russell, 2004). Negative family environment plays a major role in contributing to early teenage sexual experience and teenage pregnancy (Cunningham & Boult, 2002; Macleod, 2009). A family’s low economic status with all the factors associated with it, impacts negatively on teenagers’ attitudes towards early pregnancy. Life experiences associated with poverty minimise the perceived repercussions of adolescent pregnancy (Preston-Whyte & Zondi, 2002). Andorka (2008) stated that people with higher income show lower fertility levels at the earlier stage of socioeconomic development than people with lower income. Other basics of economic conditions such as economic security also seem to have a significant influence on teenage pregnancy (Andorka, 2008). A study by Kamal (2009) showed that a significant negative relation was found between teenage motherhood and the wealth index. About three out of four women with a poor wealth index started childbearing before they reached the age of nineteen. Choe et al. (2001) showed that woman’s education was significantly related to the probability of child bearing before the age of 20. The results of a study by Were (2007) also showed that teenage pregnancies were perpetuated by poor educational access as women with low levels of education tended to be the victims of teenage birth. Because educated woman were more likely to participate in the labour force than their uneducated or lower educated counterparts, women who were working also tended to delay their first marriage and first birth compared with those women who were not working. In Ghana, Bogue (2009) argue that education showed a stronger and more consistent relationship with teenage pregnancy. The level of education of women is a socioeconomic indicator which is frequently found to be negatively related to teenage pregnancy. This is because educated women tend to marry and use contraception later compared to women who have a low level of education (Bongaarts, 2008). Furthermore, Cochrane (2009) also stated that education was positively related to more favourable attitudes toward birth control, greater knowledge of contraception, and husband-wife communication. Thus, concerning the context of the study, it assumes that the level of educational attainment of women may affect the timing of childbearing among women. . 3 Peer Pressure and Teenage Pregnancy Preston-Whyte & Zondi (2002) found that schoolmates exerted a lot of pressure on their peers to engage in sexual relations. Some studies have found that teenagers often cite their peers as being of strong influence on their sexual behaviour (Preston-Whyte & Zondi, 2002; Chillman, 2006). Teenagers’ need for approval and a desire to belong to a group makes them vulnerable to peer influence thereby leading to them to teenage pregnancy (Kamal, 2009). Nowadays teenagers’ preferred position is to stay away from their parents, to avoid to be controlled by parents. They rather listen to their peers than to their parents. Bezuidenhout (2002) said that during that time norms and values taught by parents start to fade out and are replaced by liberal sexual values orientated by peers. Preston-Whyte and Zondi (2002) mentioned that peer pressure plays a role in teenage pregnancy. Buga et al. (2006) found that 20% of girls and 10% of boys respectively indicated that they had initiated sexual activity because of peer pressure. Wood et al. (2006) said peer pressure takes a form of exclusionary practices (e. g. sending sexually inexperienced teenagers away when having discussions concerning sexual matters). Again Mfono (2008) indicated that one of the dynamics operative in sexual relations is that girls and young women are under pressure to demonstrate that they are sexually capable of giving birth. Furthermore, Rozakis (2003) believed that many teens are pushed by their friends into doing something they are not ready for, and really do not understand that peer pressure can be a very strong and persuasive force for sexual relations during adolescence. Peer association has been indicated as one of the strongest predictors of adolescent sexual behaviour and teenage pregnancy (DiBlasio & Benda, 2004). Youth that do not engage in sex tend to have friends who also abstain. Those that are sexually active tend to believe that their friends are sexually active as well. Males, particularly those over 16, report more pressure from peers to be sexually active while females report more pressure from partners (Guggino & Ponzetti, 2007). Moore and Rosenthal (2003) pointed to the following ways peer influence can operate: Through sharing of information, which can serve as a guide in decision-making about sex (this may include inaccurate information). Through prevailing attitudes about sexuality (implicitly reflected in their behaviour and serving as a role model or explicitly stated in discussions etc. ). For example, there is some research evidence that the age of first intercourse is related to the perceived peer approval of premarital intercourse (Daugherty & Burger, 2004). 2. 4 Mass media exposure and Teenage Pregnancy Lucas (2004) stated that the age at first marriage is the one of the determinants of fertility and is classed as the intercourse variable. Early entry into marriage or a union is considered to be strongly connected with early child bearing. The supposition is that it will expose women to regular sexual intercourse through the mass media, and therefore increase the possibility of conception (Mahy & Gupta, 2002). Gupta and Leite (2009) stated that access to the media was found to be the most significant predictor of fertility among young adult women in Brazil based on an analysis of DHS data. In this region, the mass media are believed to play an important role in promoting social attitudes about fertility and reproductive behaviours, especially given the country’s linguistic homogeneity (Gupta & Leite, 2009). It can be assumed that women who are used to being exposed to mass media are likely to understand the risks of teenage motherhood, and, as a result, they tend to delay their pregnancies. It is clear from different sources that the media often plays a major role in influencing teenage pregnancy. Parents can hardly consistently monitor what programmes their teenagers are watching. Rozakis (2003) believed that television is the main source of sexual socialization in many teenagers’ lives in the USA. According to A Rozakis (2003), in a single year there were 20, 000 sexual messages on television used to sell almost anything you can imagine: cars, travel, soft drinks, toothpaste, and clothing. Television also shows six times more extramarital sex than sex between husbands and wives. During the absence of any elderly person children become bored and want to experiment with many things including exploring TV channels as source of entertainment. Devenish et al. (2002) agreed that the media also portray sex as fun and exciting. Bezuidenhout (2004) added that sexually arousing material, whether it is on film, in print or set to music, is freely available to the teenager and such information is often presented out of the context of the prescribed sexual norms of that society. Schultz (2004), in his empirical study, suggested that sex educators, social workers, other helping professionals, and parents should work together to counteract distortions that affect adolescents’ sexual development and sexual growth, and professionals and parents need to recognize the reality and power of the media as an influence on sexual growth. All of the above can influence teenager’s behaviour and encourage them to experiment with sex which will lead to unwanted teenage pregnancies (Schultz, 2004). Similarly, Moore and Rosenthal (2003) pointed out that television, films and other forms of media have removed a lot of the mystery surrounding sex by increasingly explicit portrayal of sexual acts, which can provide a model of sexual behaviour. The stereotypic portrayals often do not provide positive role models with hedonistic values rather than responsibility being promoted (e. g. planning for sex being rarely included) (Moore, 2000). According to McCabe (20055), the media’s message is that teenagers should be sexually experienced. 2. 5 Effects of Teenage Pregnancy Teenage pregnancy has been associated with a number of negative effects, hence it is perceived as a social problem (Furstenberg et al. , 2007; Macleod, 2009). In medical literature it has been associated with obstetrics problems such as high infant and maternal mortality, risks of clandestine abortion, delivery complications and low infant birth weight (Dickson, 2002). Other complications for the teenage mother are limited educational opportunities, self-determination and a poor quality of life (Prater, 2002). At the broader social level the high teenage fertility rate has been found to have a negative effect on the economic development (Varga, 2003). Some young mothers do not get support from their families. They may be rejected by their families and blamed for introducing a permanent crisis (Hudson & Ineichen, 2001; Cervera, 2004). In a situation where there was a pre-existing interpersonal problem, there is a potential that tension might be orchestrated (Dryfoos, 2006). Therefore conflict may arise between the pregnant daughter and other members of the family. Some sources have reported positive results, indicating that sometimes a family reorganises itself in order to adjust to the new member of the family (Cervera, 2004). The family may react with dismay or anger when they discover about the pregnancy, but when the baby is born the family may become the source of support for the mother (Moore, 2000). Positive family support has been associated with emotional adjustment and mental stability for both mother and child (Camerana et al. , 2008). According to Kalil and Kunz (20088) young mothers who lived with a supportive family tended to cope better. In the Ghanaian context, a child of an unmarried mother belongs to its mothers’ family (Burman, 2002). It is very unlikely that her family will reject a teenage mother (Kaufman et al. , 2001). Most communities no longer practice acts of exclusion to the unmarried mother and her child (Parekh & De La Rey, 2007). In her review of South African studies on teenage pregnancy, Macleod (20099) stated that teenage mothers reported a perceived improvement in the relationship with their parents. Parents were reported to relate to teenage mothers as adults. Thus parenthood gave the teenage mothers an entry to adulthood (Preston-Whyte & Zondi, 2002). Prater (2002) stated that teenage pregnancy and subsequent parenting could create major obstacles to any learner’s achievements at school. Thus, pregnant learners are impaired by their situation. Even though they have as much potential for academic success as their non-parenting cohorts, there are multidimensional causes for their academic failure. Many investigations have shown that early pregnancy hinders educational attainment. Erikson (2004) reported that teenage mothers exhibited a ‘syndrome of failure’, which included a failure to remain in school. Pregnant learners are more likely to drop out of school for at least an academic year. The dual role of being a mother and a learner is stressful (Parekh & De La Rey, 2007) and impinges on school achievement. School attendance, is also disturbed by such things as babysitting arrangements and the health of the child. Furstenberg et al. (2007) referred to what is termed ‘role overload’. He defined ‘role overload’ as the strain that exists when the teenage mother simultaneously attempts to meet the demands of parenting and schooling. Parenting learners cannot participate in experiences enjoyed by their peers, for example, extra-curricular activities, which can add much value to the total school experience of most teenagers. Despite these hardships schooling emerged as important (Prater, 2002). Depression has been correlated with teenage pregnancy (Hamburg, 2006). Parenting teenagers are more likely to present with higher levels of depression when compared with non-parenting adolescents and older mothers. In most literature psychological distress among adolescent mothers is perceived as resulting from psychosocial stressors related to the adjustment into the role of being the mother (Kalil & Kunz, 2000). In some literature it is argued that teenage girls are predisposed to depression (Galambos, 2004). It is postulated that teenage girls are more prone to experiencing mothers of the same ethnic and socio-economic status had similar findings (Field et al. , 2006; Hudson & Ineichen, 2001). It was found that infants of teenage mothers are more likely to receive less verbal stimulation and to have developmental delays. These negative effects were associated with the fact that teenage mothers had limited knowledge of developmental milestones and held punitive child rearing attitudes. Literature concludes that teenage mothering is contributory to poor cognitive development of the child. Low education levels of the mother, poor socioeconomic status and negative attitudes towards child rearing are correlated with the child’s poor developmental outcome (Field et al. , 2006). Cunningham and Boult (2006) also postulated that the young mother’s immaturity, social inexperience and lack of child rearing skills have a negative effect on the child. The young mother and her off-spring are at a risk of becoming victims of crime like incest, rape, neglect, abuse, family violence and of participation in criminal activities such as drug trafficking, prostitution etc. In the Ghanaian context the teenage mother often resides in her parental home (Preston-Whyte & Zondi, 2002) and the child is often in the care of an adult during the day either the grandmother or at an alternative day care. This implies that the child of a teenager is more than likely to receive parenting from an adult mother figure and to benefit from this interaction (Camerana et al. , 2008). Multiple care giving has also been found to be of benefit for the mother. While an adult is looking after the child, the mother gets the opportunity to attend to other responsibilities thus alleviating the stressors for the mother.

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