Teen pregnanciesTeenage pregnancy has become a hot topic in the United States presidential race. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the first woman vice presidential candidate in the history of the Republican Party, has a pregnant, unwed 17-year-old daughter.
In an attempt to allay criticism, Palin said that her daughter and the baby’s father intend to get married. A staunch pro-life advocate, she also added that she was proud of her daughter’s decision to keep the baby.
However, the Republican Party has been severely criticized for having opposed holding sex education, including education on contraception, in schools.
Critics argue that the Republican Party ignores the reality that every year, hundreds of thousands of teenage girls in the U.S. have babies out of wedlock.
The situation is similar in Korea. According to the Korea National Statistical Office, 2.3 out of every 1,000 girls aged between 15 and 19 gave birth last year. Official statistics show that every year, we have nearly 3,500 teenage single mothers.
Only 20 to 30 percent of teenage pregnancies are carried to term. The rest have abortions. This shows the seriousness of teen sex problems.
We should increase education on pregnancy prevention in schools and to families, for both boys and girls. A social network for single teenage moms should be set up.
According to a survey by the National Human Rights Commission conducted late last year, 71.4 percent of pregnant teenage girls under the age of 19 dropped out of school because of pregnancy. Most of the girls wanted to continue their education but the schools persuaded them to quit.
Without complete education, these young mothers tend to be unemployed, and are likely to fall into a cycle of poverty. We should learn from the United States and Europe, where there are consulting and day-care programs to help teenage moms continue their studies.
Public perceptions on adoption should be changed as well. Some 80 percent of babies born out of wedlock are adopted and most of them find new homes abroad.
If we embrace these babies and bring them up here, this would help resolve anticipated problems from our low birth rate.