Teenage pregnancy is an important social issue globally today. Considering that it can have a major impact on the physical and mental health of young mothers, and also poses increased risks of child mortality and social obstacle among their offspring, it cannot be overlooked by policymakers. Governments of developing countries are also concerned with the socioeconomic cycle of poverty, and the healthcare crises related to it. Globally, teen pregnancy is defined as the birth rates per 1,000 teenage women. The age of a pregnant teen is ascertained when a pregnancy has ended, and more specific teen pregnancy statistics are not always available with regards to still birth, live birth, and abortions. Governments around the world have taken steps in the resolution of this issue, both independently and with international assistance. Traditional cultural values, access to healthcare, education, and socioeconomic conditions are among the primary influences on teenage pregnancy rates.
3. The Lowest Rates in North and South Korea
North Korea has the lowest teen pregnancy rate in the world at 0.5608 births per 1,000 teenage females, followed by neighboring South Korea at 1.6584. Switzerland is third at 3.0578, then followed by Hong Kong at 3.2662 and Singapore at 3.8334. The other countries among those having the lowest teen pregnancy rates are Slovenia, the Netherlands, Denmark and Japan. North Korea and South Korea are in the list's top two because teenage girls in the two countries have stopped marrying at young ages in these countries, as well as that fact that Korean parents often disown unwed teenage daughters who have become impregnated. Although there is a support system in both countries for pregnant teens, social acceptance of such is next to none. For these reasons, it can be said with confidence that culture and tradition play major roles in the low teen birth rates on the Korean Peninsula.
2. Recent Declines in Europe
Studies have shown that between the mid-1990s and 2011, the rates of teenage pregnancy have declined across much of the globe. This may be due to better sex education and more openness between teenagers and the parents offering guidance. Studies have shown that teen pregnancy and childbirth at a young age can be a health concern, and also a barrier to opportunities later in life. The children of teenage mothers are also often at increased risk for developmental problems. The United Kingdom has seen a fall in teen birth rates in women aged 15-19 by more than a quarter since 2004. The European Union has also registered a decline in birth rates since 2012 among women aged 15-19. Within Europe, Denmark has teen birth rates of 4.4 births per 1,000 teenage females, while Slovenia’s teenage birth rates and those of the Netherlands each stand at 4.5. Switzerland figured in much lower, at 3.4 births per 100,000 teenage girls. Three other developed countries in the same period that saw a decline in teen birth rate were Australia, with birthrates among teenage women now at 16.1, New Zealand at 24.9, and the United States at 29.4 per 1,000 women aged 15-19.
1. A Comprehensive Approach Needed
Two of the factors most commonly associated with resultant teen pregnancies are social influences and substandard economic conditions. Coupled with teens facing non-existent governmental assistance towards achieving goals in reducing these rates, the problem is a difficult one to manage. Some factors that could help bring down high rates of teenage pregnancy are better access to family planning services, sex education, and more affordable contraception. Preventative measures, in particular, should be included as part of sex education programs in schools and communities as well. It has been suggested that more studies should be done in determining estimates of teen pregnancy with country-specific involvement of government towards programmatic and policy responses. Some studies about the circumstances that lead to teen pregnancy are also being done to find more effective means through which mitigate high rates of teenage pregnancy incidence.