PERCEIVED CAUSES OF TEENAGE PREGNANCY AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
Background to the study
In developing and developed countries, teenage pregnancy continues to receive increased attention because of the early age at which adolescents engage in sexual activities and the result of unplanned and unintended pregnancies associated with the risk and problem of early motherhood. Lack of adequate information, education, and communication on reproductive health services and the perennial concern in different parts of the world reveal that adolescents become sexually active at an early age which leads to a high number of teenage pregnancies today.
In many developing countries, about half the population is under 15 years. These age groups expose themselves to sexual habits which have led many of them into teenage pregnancy and at the same time cost the adolescent their educational background, (Gyan, 2013). Out of wedlock pregnancy and motherhood are not encouraged in the Owerri North community at large. When teenage pregnancy is allowed to continue, at times it places the teenage mother’s health in danger because of inadequate parental care received by the teenage mother. So, after birth, the risk of the mother and her child will be high. Those circumstances may be responsible for an increase in infanticide, baby abandonment, and child abuse. For these reasons, pregnancies among teenagers are creating concern for many industrialized countries today WHO, (2000).
Van, (2007), perceived economic factor as a cause of teenage pregnancy, he indicated that teenagers from lower-income families are more likely to report having sexual intercourse regardless of the family structure or race. It is further pointed out that teenagers from single-parent family homes are more likely to report having the family in combination with the high rate of school fees in the present school system in Nigeria. These have exposed girls to sexual intercourse in order to make out ways to solve their problem of school fees in the school. This act at times occurred as a result of poor family background. Van further indicated that substance abuse was long recognized as one of the greatest health and social problems which resulted in teenage pregnancies because teenagers engage in sexual intercourse without making calculated decisions due to the influence of alcohol.
Added to the risk of being born by a teenage mother, there also exist other associated risks for babies born into an environment that lacks life’s basic needs. Baby and mother usually stand disadvantaged and handicapped in day-to-day living. Teenage mothers are typically depicted as inadequate parents (BuchHoiz, 2003), then their children are thought to be a significant risk for maltreatment. However, the degree of risk to children teenage parents may be well determined by the financial, social, and emotional stresses these families face. The critical factor being the availability of resources which after support and encouragement.
In recognition of the identified problems of teenage pregnancy and early motherhood, there are many welfare programs and services available to pregnant adolescents in most of the developed countries. Family welfare programs are considered as a set of measures formulated at the executive level to provide concrete support and services for the advancement of groups and individuals in order to bring about social change, family planning, education welfare services, food, and nutrition. The form and content of a program as well as its organization and administration depend on the culture and history of a given country including its values, customs, and social structure as well as its resources and awareness.
The concept of social health emanated from the multifaceted view of health which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is a state of complete physical, social and mental well-being of an individual and not merely the absence of diseases or infirmities. According to Chijioke (2010), man is well known to be a social animal and therefore lives by interacting with his fellow human beings. Similarly, Oguguo (2004) observes that man’s nature, which cannot be effectively fulfilled without inter and intrarelationship has equally created some social problems ranging from hatred to others, breed and nurtured by the so-called jet age. These problems according to Ogugo (2004) are the evil effects of man’s social consciousness which health educators have designated social health. Some of these problems emanating from social health according to Asogwa (2000) are called social health problems. This is because according to him, their solution requires community efforts, professional know-how, the co-operation of other disciplines, and greater effort and time. Nwachukwu (2009) identified teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual promiscuity among others as social health problems that are usually associated with adolescents.
Chauhan (1999) asserted that development is a continuous process, which begins from the time of conception in the womb of the mother and continues till death. However, that period of life that lies between the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood is termed adolescence. Njoku (2008) pointed out that adolescence is that span of years during which boys and girls move from childhood to adulthood, mentally, emotionally, socially, and physically. The period varies in length from culture to culture and includes the teenage years. During the adolescent years which spans between the ages of 12 and 20 years in Nigeria, Ene and Nnamani, (2000). Most teenagers experience a period of very rapid growth and an adolescent growth spurt. This growth is accompanied by the development of reproductive organs and such secondary sex characteristics as breast enlargement in girls, beards in boys, and the appearance of pubic hairs generally. These changes culminated in puberty marked by the development of sperm cells in boys, ovum, and subsequent menstruation in girls. The bodily changes that accompany sexual maturity are sources of both pride and embarrassment in adolescents. Ajiboye (2007) remarked that adolescence is a period when youngsters develop heterosexual feelings. This sort of feeling may lead the youngster to develop passionate affection for others. This may be attributed to why adolescents want to go out, engage in social activities, attend church services, and carry all sorts of personal exhibitions of themselves. Such teenage social interactions tend to create an atmosphere for personal affections, love which may even result in sexual intercourse. The sex hormones already in their bloodstream constitute a powerful force, which generates the sex drives and cravings in them.
Sex is one area in which impulse most frequently conflict with moral standard and violation of their standards may generate strong feelings of guilt. This is especially so if it results in an illegitimate pregnancy in a teenager. But in the traditional Nigerian setting, sex is regarded as being very personal and exclusive, and any careless reference to it without caution, both in words or deeds is deemed immoral and irresponsible.
Thus, there is an apparent silent ban on direct reference to sex. Consequently, girls abstained from pre-marital sex for it was a virtue for both the bride and groom to be innocent of sexual acts until after wedlock. Christianity also extended this restrictive attitude towards sexual expressions and participation. Nnadi (2003) reported that schools were built and managed by missionaries who imposed very stringent codes of conduct on heterosexual activities. The mission was aimed at preventing children from acknowledging any type of sex activities which was collectively regarded as acts of immorality and sin against God.
The situation however changed remarkably after the civil war with the take-over of schools by the federal and state government of Nigeria. Many co-educational institutions were established such that teenage males and females had more opportunities to interact with one another. It is worthy of note that prior to this era according to Ngwu (2005), the Western World had adopted a radically liberated social attitude towards sex. He observed that sexual intercourse has become glorified and commercialized and all types of behavior such as nudity, homosexuality, and premarital sex recklessly and publicly expressed with impunity.
Consequently, Ngwu (2005) reported that today pornographic magazines, blue films, and romantic books and novels among others are almost legalized. These could however be the reason why Okoro (2010) observed that effects of civil war, the establishment of corresponding viability of satisfactory knowledge, and acceptance of the use of birth control methods heightened the incidence of teenage pregnancy, abortions, venereal diseases, drug addictions, promiscuity, and other social health problems. Onyia (2000) had earlier reported that the pregnant teenager is usually maladjusted because she feels that she has committed a crime, consequently, she feels ashamed, guilty, not always accepted by peers parents, relatives, and even to a considerate extent by society.
One of the reasons for the high rate of school drop-out in the present is teenage pregnancy. According to Castle (2009), a disproportionate number of studies are committed by pregnant teenagers all over the world. Added to this are instances of violence and neglect suffered by teenagers forced to marry because of pregnancy in societies. He further outlined the following as the factors associated with teenage pregnancy. These are social factors, economic, psychological, adolescent sexual behavior with reference to its consequences. Singh (2010) states that the normal tendency of adolescents is to engage in impulsive behavior, simply by reason of their developmental stage and lack of knowledge at a particular period. This act further facilitates the risk of sexual activities.
Definitely, teenage pregnancies do not come about on their own; it is strongly rooted in numerous possible multi-dimensional factors. Some authors have proffered possible factors associated with teenage pregnancies such as economic, social, and psychological factors. But there is a need to be empirically sure. In order to ascertain the factors associated with teenage pregnancies among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area, therefore this study is geared towards finding the factors associated with teenage pregnancies among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.
Statement of the Problem
Ude (2010) described the ramping with which teenagers get pregnant in Nigeria after the civil war. According to him, the problem assumed a large dimension with time and people started being aware of such unruly tendency on the part of these teenagers. According to Igiebor (2009), the pervasiveness of moral decadence has turned sex which used to be a taboo in the olden days to be seen as a symbol of sophistication by the modern societies, explicit expression of sexuality in various forms and sexually suggestive music are allowed which simulates teenagers’ curiosity and enhanced sexual intercourse which results in teenage pregnancy.
With these explicit expressions of sexuality, health education and preaching against it were carried out by concerned individuals but all these did not bear many fruits as to stop the menace. Rather, according to Aneke (2012), many more teenagers get attracted to some “goodies” and were fully initiated into heterosexual relationships leading to an increase in the number of teenagers getting pregnant every year. Nokidu (2011), observed that the problem is pretty serious as according to him, teenage pregnancies continue to be on the increase.
Teenage parenthood according to Ani (2010) is a reflection of society. Ani further stated that it is a common occurrence and is fast trying to become part of our culture instead of a taboo. It is, however, a general observation according to Ezugwu (2000), that teenagers who fall prey to this problem usually get so embarrassed, disturbed, frustrated, and become totally dislodged and disillusioned in life. He concluded that the future of those who would be leaders is completely shattered. This study, therefore, examines the perceived causes of teenage pregnancies among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State so as to proffer a solution to reduce its occurrence.
Purpose of the Study
The major purpose of this study is to examine the perceived causes of teenage pregnancies among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State. Specifically, this study will examine:
1. The economic factors associated with teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.
2. The social and psychological factors associated with teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.
3. Ascertain adolescent sexual behavior associated with teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.
4. The consequences of teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.
Significance of the Study
This research will be of immense significance to teachers, social workers, government, and the students as well as school administrators. The findings generated by this study would help the government to use all available resources to organize a program to educate both parents and the youths on the needs and importance of sex education. This program will go a long way to discourage early marriage and teenage pregnancy among the youths, which will, in turn, stand to develop the youths and make them be useful to society at large.
This study will be of interest to the students who are the future of the nation because the study of this nature will expose them to the bad implication of teenage pregnancy and this will motivate them to see reasons for studying and forsake anything like distraction among their peers.
Furthermore, the findings of this study will help the social workers in the area of counseling to know the absolute counseling activities and techniques needed to adopt for the benefit of the students. This will help school authorities and administrators to know the economic (monetary) needs of their students and communicate same to their parents on their economic responsibilities towards their wards in the secondary school during the Parent-Teachers-Association (P.T.A) meetings. Finally, this will also help social scientists to identify the causes of this social problem called teenage pregnancy and proffer lasting solutions to the problem.
Scope of the Study
This study was delimited to the following: Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State. It was delimited to secondary school students (SS1-SS3). The context covered: the concept of teenage pregnancy, adolescent factors, social factors, economic factors, and psychological factors of teenage pregnancy and consequences.
The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:
1. What are the economic factors associated with teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State?
2. What are the social and psychological factors associated with teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State?
3. What are the adolescent sexual behaviors associated with teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State?
What are the consequences of teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State?.