The age at which young people are considered ready to make decisions about sex varies depending on the society being considered. In many parts of the world the age of consent is sixteen although this can be either higher or lower. One of the issues that comes with being allowed to engage in sexual activity is the risk of STDs as well as pregnancy. Many factors can increase these risks to the point where a serious problem of teenage pregnancy results.
Abstinence only programs have been observed to increase the likelihood of teenage pregnancy. One of the reasons for this is that such programs do not ask young people what they would like to do about their sex lives. They present abstinence as the only choice, often with a religious bias which encourages teens to superficially agree to abstain and then engage in sexual activities without protection because carrying prophylactics would be an admission of a premeditated desire to sin. This increases the chances of pregnancy.
Whether or not abstinence only methods are promoted, lack of sex education can lead to many mistakes being made. In the absence of clear and accurate information, myths and rumors spread about how pregnancy can be avoided and many of these will be wrong. This can lead teens to think they have no risk of pregnancy when they still do.
Another serious concern is the lack of proper parental supervision. Often parents have misguided trust in their children and may not realize that they have a desire to engage in sexual activities until it is too late. They may also think that threats of punishment are sufficient to curtail natural impulses. This is not always the case and many children have been conceived under the roof of their grandparents' homes with them none the wiser until the pregnancy becomes visible.
Knowing that teenagers have sex drives and may not always express them in the best ways, it is a good idea to provide alternative outlets for that energy. By encouraging them to engage in sports or other activities they may have less time to devote to sex whether it be protected or not. This in itself reduces the chances of pregnancy although it is far from a fool proof measure.
Once children have been born to teen parents the system can continue to fail them or it can provide means for upliftment and breaking the cycles of underachievement. This takes patience and dedication to reform.
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