This research essay was conducted to identify the problem of teenage pregnancies in the London borough of Lewisham. The target population was 15 to 17 year-olds who are involved in teenage pregnancy in this borough. A comparison with the national figures as well as other boroughs was done to give a clear picture of the problem currently. An analysis of the impact of the problem on the nation, the borough, the health systems, as well as the individual was done to gauge the intensity of the problem. In this regard the problem was related concerning racial/ethnic groups and the variations also assessed. The sick City hypothesis has also been analyzed in relation to London health status as it compared to other cities and the national averages. Finally, solutions to the problem were advanced and appropriate recommendations done in light of the evaluation. This research essay aims to understand the problem of teenage pregnancy as it relates to Lewisham, and provides solutions to the problem discussed in light of the information inferred.
Table of Contents
Teenage pregnancy is a menace that deprives young teenage girls the normalcy of life from that point henceforth. It is a primary cause of the disruption of education amongst many children. Moreover, it poses an enormous threat to the health of the young mothers seeing that their bodies are not yet matured to endure pregnancies. In this regard, there are significant concerns in the London boroughs that for a long time now have had some of the highest early pregnancy rates amongst teens in the country (Cordes, Norman, & savage, 2009). Research has it that at least one in every thirteen teenagers falls pregnant in the boroughs. Those who are most affected are girls between the age of 15 and 17 years, which is a very worrying trend (BBC News, 2016). One of the most affected boroughs is Lewisham, which has been recorded to have a high rate, ranking between the second and third position for the last couple of years (Lewisham’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, 2014). Information collected from the health reports in the boroughs indicates that the trend showed rapid and continuous to increase from January 2001 to 2009. This called for action to mitigate the already critical problem (BBC News, 2016). The problem was specially recorded highest amongst communities of black and minority groups.
The impact of teenage pregnancies is tremendous; affecting the nation’s resources, the NHS, the communities, families, and the individuals themselves (Parsley, 2016). There are various reasons that have been given as causative, but poor sex education is probably the main reason why the problem has intensified as such. The aim of this study is to scrutinize the problem of teenage pregnancies in London and the Lewisham borough through analyzing the impact of the same on the society, families and the young mothers. Additionally, the correlation between teenage pregnancies and urban health profiles shall be discussed to identify and define the consequences and implications of this problem. Furthermore, possible strategies and interventions shall be evaluated so as to aid efforts to address the problem. Lastly, recommendations inferred from the discussion shall be proposed as a way to hasten the recovery of the Lewisham borough and London at large.
Definition: This section purposes to prove why teenage pregnancies are a problem in Lewisham, London and to the entire country. To accomplish this, analysis of empirical and epidemiological data is of utmost necessity. Trends shall be evaluated as a reflection of the situation on the ground.
According to the Lewisham’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (2014), there are some key indicators of teenage pregnancy in this borough that are necessary to know. First of all, Lewisham ranks second in the rates of teenage pregnancies in London (Lewisham’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, 2014) and third in the entire England (Department of Health, 2012). Consequently, a needs assessment task force is important to understand why this is the case and what can be done to resolve it. The organization also reports that teenagers between the ages of 15-17 years had, in 2008, a conception rate of 6.88% which was primarily a very high rate (Department of Health, 2012). Of these pregnancies, an approximated 59% were terminated (Department of Health, 2012). In another report, the NHS Lewisham indicated that data from 2005-2008 indicated a strong correlation between deprivation and social exclusion and teenage pregnancies (Robinson, Noelle and Hutt, 2013). This information calls to action strategies predicated around reversing the trend (Parsley, 2016).
According to Christine and Geoff of the Young Foundation dedicated to understanding the plight of teenage mothers and helping them, pregnancy and parenthood at tender ages like this present untold challenges to these mothers. They are left vulnerable, and chances of achieving their best are reduced significantly. Although the impact of pregnancies hits mothers hardest, expectant fathers are also subject to the detrimental effects of the unplanned pregnancies (Ash & Ogakwu, 2014, p. 1).
The incidences of unplanned pregnancies, as discussed earlier, affect different levels of the society. For instance, this phenomenon has detrimental effects on the nation in several ways. First, there is a strain on the national resources. This occurs due to the high growth rate on the population. For instance, the high birth rate in London boroughs has caused a strain on the NHS services with the increase in number of births. Therefore, special attention has to be paid to these cases whereas such efforts would be focused elsewhere to deal with equally pressing concerns (“Teenage Pregnancy”, 2016). Secondly, the rapid increase in population introduces a shortage of sorts in service delivery as the rationing has to be decreased to meet the demands of everyone including the newborn in the society (Baker, Fitzpatrick and Jacobson, 2012). Thirdly, the teenage mothers who are forced to abandon school introduce a portion of the population that is not literate enough to take on skilled jobs.
This introduces another challenge that is resultant from globalization. The impact of globalization on nations has seen to increased demand for skilled labor and subsequently, reduced for the unskilled (Arnett, 2002, p. 779). This has pushed the wages of the skilled and unskilled labor in different directions introducing a huge gap in the living standards (Arnett, 2002, p. 774-783). Effectively leading to global inequality, where those who are deprived are pushed further in the wallows of deprivation (Arnett, 2002, pp. 774-783). Fourth, teenage pregnancies lead to intensified problems in families that are already not meeting their needs. This, in turn, results in an increase in criminal activities to meet the daily demands (“Teenage Pregnancy”, 2016). These challenges have a negative impact on a country. England is no exception and consequently is suffering from these problems introduced by teenage pregnancies (Lewisham.gov.uk, 2016).
The family institution is also affected significantly by the problems of teenage pregnancies. Struggling families have to tussle even more to ensure that the demands of the newborn and nursing mothers are met. This places a tremendous strain on the families’ breadwinners and sometimes leading to health problems and conditions such as depression and stress. Pregnancies of this sort introduce a change in lifestyle. In some cases, families have been known to break up due to flaws like these. Cases of violence have not gone unnoticed where parents become hostile to their pregnant teenagers on the realization of the condition (“Teenage Pregnancy”, 2016). These challenges are greatly felt in homes where these cases are reported hence the need to address the matter before it gets out of hand.
Even worse is the impact of pregnancies on the individual. They have a lasting impact on the life of the teenage mothers. First, the teenagers are subjected to a condition which their bodies are not ready to handle. They are barely in their young age and their hormones are not settled; they are still struggling with issues of emotional stability, self-identity, among other issues. Therefore, they are not emotionally and physically up to the challenge of motherhood (Cordes, Norman and Savage, 2009). As such, when they realize their condition, some are unable to cope with the emotional pressure that tags along. They end up succumbing to stress traumas and in severe cases depression that takes a toll on them (Robinson, Noelle and Hutt, 2013). Secondly, the pregnancy introduces a lapse in their education career. Some are forced to take leave from school whereas others abandon school completely to tend their parenthood duties. Third, on dropping out or taking leave from school, their chances of ever accomplishing their dreams are affected significantly. Even when they are able to go back to school, it is never the same again owing to their acquired parental status.
Where the conditions are entirely unfavorable to take on parental roles, some of the girls results in extreme measures that put their lives at risk. For instance, the reported terminated pregnancies reiterate teenagers who were not up to the task of parenthood. However, these abortions introduce major health challenges to the perpetrators of the act. Cases of abortions that have gone bad and both mother and child lost are not unfamiliar news. They end up over-bleeding and sustaining major health complications that eventually end their lives (Robinson, Noelle and Hutt, 2013). In other cases, the abortion introduces health complications that can see the girl become sterile and unable to bear children afterwards (Robinson, Noelle and Hutt, 2013). Pregnant teenagers have a whole world to lose hence the necessity to address the matter sooner than later. Additionally, expectant fathers who may be teenagers or otherwise are faced with the challenges of unplanned parenthood. They are forced into taking responsibilities that they were not ready for. This often leads to instability in families with poor foundation (Sorhaindo et al., 2016, pp. 181-190). Eventually leading to challenges as domestic abuse and increased cases of divorce.
The challenges discussed herein above reiterate the problem statement; teenage pregnancies in Lewisham, London, England and the world over is a major issue that needs to be dealt with from the very roots of the problem in order to salvage the girl child and the entire society. Teenage pregnancies are a major cause for maladjusted societies and a major cause of global inequality and suffering and Lewisham borough is no exception.
By definition, a city is a place where population density is greatest and for this reason, it is a vector for transmission of disease (Rodwin, 2016). However, beyond the transmission of disease epidemics, there are numerous indicators of population health in the cities. as such comparison of similar characteristics between London to other large urban areas should give an indication of the health concerns. Members of the world Cities project in their comparison of, in these three major cities namely, London, Paris and New York, health and healthcare; they gave a review of the evidence of whether urban areas enjoy a health advantage (Keil and Ali, 2007, pp. 846-873). They also reviewed evidence of an urban health penalty. In their results, they reported in support of the sick City hypothesis which states the “belief that the health of the urban population is porter than the national population as a whole” (Keil and Ali, 2007, pp. 846-873). In the same report, a good indication of life expectancy above 65 years of age above the national average was observed.
From the report, there were indications that London, despite the high teenage pregnancies, had a higher expectancy rate than England as a whole at birth. Other cities did not compare quite as well. Further, Urban areas across England reported evidence indicating clearly urban health penalty from the analysis that was conducted from ONS (Keil and Ali, 2007, pp. 846-873). This was reported in the life expectancy data that revealed lower life expectancy for people in urban areas as compared to those in the rural area. It was significantly higher in men while women compared a little bit better (Keil and Ali, 2007, pp. 846-873). It was an analysis that was conducted on a classification that divided rural and urban areas from the Lower Super Output areas (Keil and Ali, 2007). However, inconsistency was observed in evidence on health inequalities of urban and rural areas across the country.
From the report, it was not easy to infer strong conclusion from the evidence provided to support or oppose the proposition the biggest English cities, London for instance, share a health disadvantage. There was evidence showing that London was doing better in some areas as compared to England while in other fields, it was doing significantly worse that England as a whole (Keil and Ali, 2007, pp. 846-873). To exemplify, London has a lower mortality rate for some diseases as compared to London besides having a higher life expectancy at birth (Keil and Ali, 2007, pp. 846-873). A significantly reduced infant death rate is also seen in London as compared to the rest of England. An indication showing the propensity for mothers to initiate breastfeeding in the city is also higher than the national average (Keil and Ali, 2007, pp. 846-873). Consequently, the boroughs also reflect the situation in London. However, regardless of the good indicators of general health trends from the report, London reports a significantly worse performance in teenage conceptions among other areas. Therefore, this is a call of action for strategies to counter teenage pregnancies, reiterating the purpose of this essay.
The experience of teenage pregnant girls and nursing teen mothers is varied on the basis of race/ethnicity. The experience is similar in many ways amongst the black and other minority ethnic groups. This is founded on the basis of education, employment, the housing and homelessness, aptness to crime. Questions of the identity of the newly born and support received in the after-care (Ajayi, 2006, pp. 85-86). These factors come together and greatly influence the experiences of various teenage mothers. In a study that was conducted by Ravinder, Linder, and Nadia, and reported by Ajayi (2006), it was recorded that the profile of needs across the various ethnic groups indeed showed many similarities. Additionally, revealing that in-care experience played an important role in life opportunities of these young people (Baker, Fitzpatrick and Jacobson, 2012). The complexity of ethnicity was revealed by the experiences of young African and Asians that were generally positive and on the other hand, those of white, mixed or Caribbean parentage experience relative deprivation and were essentially disadvantaged (Barn & Sidhu, 2005, pp. 11-27).
The complex picture painted by the research reveals that ethnicity and disadvantage do not follow the expected trend. There was evidence indicating that young white people experienced worst outcome when they were faced with teen pregnancy. This was indicated by placement disruption, achievements in education, homelessness and the prevalence to engage in risky behavior (Barn & Sidhu, 2006, pp. 11-27). While on the other hand, black and minority groups emerge as groups that experience the least instability. However, these outcomes were relative and could not draw a particularly strong conclusion on the actual experience on a much larger scale. However, linking globalization to teenage pregnancies reveals particularly interesting finding.
As indicated elsewhere in this research, globalization is a major cause of inequality. Inequality, especially economic inequality, on the other hand, has been highly associated with teenage pregnancy as a result of depravity (Barn, & Sidhu, 2006, pp. 11-27). Individuals who are not well skilled/ qualified in a globalizing world are more often than not finding themselves at crossroads with a world that is increasingly demands economic power to maintain subtle living standards (Arnett, 2002, pp. 774-783). In order to be skilled and marketable thereof, education is particularly a necessity. For this reason, access to the best education has been for a long time the key to determination of success or failure in life.
Historical recap reveals a mass shipment of unskilled labor during the renaissance period into Europe, and England for that matter. Many of these people who were shipped into the country were of African origin who came as slaves and consequently, formed the ancestry for blacks in Europe and the World over. As slaves, they were not entitled to good education and other benefits that set the foundation for the globalizing modern society. They have, for the better part of their history, fighting for equality and against racial discrimination.
It is not until in the recent history that they have started picking the pace in the world that is fast changing. Most black minority groups are finding themselves in a race with a dynamic world and hence the struggle with social inequities and depravity is a common phenomenon among these communities (Arnett 2002, pp. 774-783). The result of which is increasing teenage pregnancies in the London boroughs. Therefore, there is a link between globalization and teenage pregnancy among black minority groups.
In order to address teenage pregnancies in the London borough of Lewisham and elsewhere, there are several strategies that can be adopted. These strategies should be focused on ensuring that they deal with the problem from the root cause. Preliminary results from a brief root-cause analysis have indicated that there is poor sex education in the boroughs. An indication that depravity is causative to the problem should also be addressed. The strategies analyzed here, may or may not have been put into practice before. However, a combination of several strategies should allow for easier and faster achievement of results. These strategies have a common objective that it is to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy to a near zero in Lewisham and London. The evidence provided hereinabove reveals the need for a revitalization of the strategies that are in existence and demands for innovation on ways of dealing with the problem. The following is an analysis of suggested solutions:
- Incorporate and integrate sexual education in school curriculums. – as indicated, one of the major reasons that most girls are involved in teenage pregnancies is the lack of or insufficient knowledge on sex. Therefore, to address the problem, it is important to deal with the cause-absence of sex education through integrating sex education into school curriculums (Alldred, Fox, & Kulpha, 2016, p. 14). Schools amass many young people on a daily basis throughout the year, making it a very suitable place to start sex education. The content should be designed in a way as to gradually introduce pupils in school on the subject. Progressively the subject should be made more detailed and explicit as the children also grow in age. This would allow a situation whereby the students are not taken by surprise by changing emotional and physical changes and the desires that tag along (Girma, & Paton, 2014). They should be mentally prepared to understand that the changes and emotional response that occurs is and has been routine in the growth and development cycle of man. It is also very important that the topics are structured in a way that reduces curiosity to engage in the activity; instead, it should teach the importance of sex when and where it is appropriate. Making the topic, Sex, an open topic makes it less intriguing and curiosity to explore is diminished. Such a tactical approach would ensure that at least a huge chunk of potential pregnancies is avoided through proper education.
- Secondly, a review of the policies, laws and regulations regarding perpetrators of the act is a necessity. – it is most likely that many of the perpetrators, male counterparts, are ignorant of the laws protecting minorities. Therefore, it should be an effort of the government to ensure the policies, laws and regulations that protect minors are strengthened in a way that spells out control over the issue explicitly. For instance, a policy could be drafted spelling out stern consequences for anyone convicted of getting a minor pregnant. If an individual is caught and convicted of the act, a stern sentencing that should be made public would be a good deterrent technique. A minimum age should be set defining a minor below which engaging in sex is a criminal offense. In the event that a minor and another minor happen to engage in the act. Delayed sentencing should be passed until the offender becomes of age, then they can serve their term. Additionally, laws governing illicit abortions should be reviewed. These laws should be focused on ensuring that abortions that are ill-advised of teenage pregnancies are spelled out as criminal consequently, incriminating anyone perpetrating the act and their associates. These measures would be deterrent to both pregnancies and abortions thereof.
- Third, intervention programs should be set in place for already pregnant girls, their families and expectant fathers for support. The programs should be focused on ensuring that teenagers who are already in the predicament have their issues addressed through these organizations. These intervention programs should be community-based and established with the help of local administration/authorities. To make them more effective, the programs should be a community initiative that is funded independently by the local and national governments, predicated specifically on addressing the plight of teenage mothers. This would especially be helpful for those who are rejected in the society, the homeless and the abused. It should be engineered to take into account all the diversities of the communities especially ethnicity/race among other factors. The programs should assist the nursing mothers and the pregnant teens to deal with daily challenges with the help of elderly individuals with experience in parenthood and others of similar experience. This would allow for easy identification of the challenges that they face hence easier acceptability. The program should also be focused on ensuring that once the mothers are through the nursing stages, they are provided with means to continue with education or find means to provide for their new born. Such a program would assist to control the situation and gradually teach the importance of avoiding teenage pregnancies.
From the discussion held, this research essay has provided evidence on the subject of teenage pregnancy in Lewisham borough. An analysis of the problem reveals a necessity to deal with the problem owing to the impact it has had on the society in the borough and the entire country as well as the individuals. Therefore, from the evaluation of possible strategies outlined above, I recommend that a combination of the three strategies should be adopted as a way of curbing the problem. The strategies outlined offer a unique approach to the problem in different stages. The first strategy seeks to address the problem from the very root of the problem where insufficient knowledge on sex education has been cited as a primary reason of teenage pregnancies. The second measure takes a deterrent approach to the problem, seeking to address the problem by deterring the perpetrators through legal means. Finally, the third step involves a control/mitigation approach involving the community’s intervention in addressing the problem and hence easier identification and acceptance of the phenomenon in the community.
Additionally, I am of the opinion that since depravity is a major cause of teenage pregnancies; the government should in a way ensure that means to distribute the wealth of the nation and reduce inequality throughout the nation, would serve to reduce the cases. It is especially important to offer equal opportunities to quality education and employment regardless of race or ethnicity (Oborn, Barret, & Exworthy, 2011, pp. 325-344). This would take into account the plight of minority groups hence offering a lasting solution to the problem. Adopting these strategies should satisfactorily negate the sick city hypothesis that suggests London alongside other major cities are victims of urban health penalty.
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