This study focuses on teenage pregnancy menace in the United States. Research Paradigm: In the development of the pre-proposal on the research topic chosen, I intend to use the interpretivist/constructivist paradigm which I find to be most suitable for the topic under study as participants shall be required to give their views on the issue being studied. This is important as the participants’ views and experiences shall provide an insight into the problem being addressed. Statement of the Problem:
The problem of teenage pregnancy being witnessed in the American society is multifaceted and can not be attributed to a single cause. Background and Context for the Problem: Teen pregnancy and adolescent parenthood has been a fairly common practice in the United States’ history. However, it is not possible to get an accurate measure of teenage pregnancy using the teen birthrate criteria since not all pregnancies results into births. Since the 1970s, American political class, policy makers, and social critics have been on the frontline to condemn the perceived ‘epidemic of teen pregnancy’.
This indicates that the critics have little information regarding incidences of teenage pregnancy in America’s historical past. Teenage pregnancy is not a recent phenomenon as it has its roots in the past during the colonial times (Lindenmeyer, 2002). During the colonial times period all the way to the late 19th century, most of the Americans married when they were very young and had children by their early twenties or during their mid twenties. Marriage and parenthood became a rational choice for individuals who were living in a society that was characterized by dependency on family production.
Race, ethnicity, class, and region were the major influences on the marriage circumstances but the rural areas were the ones that had the lowest age at marriage. There was less concern from individuals for as long as the expectant mother was married before she gave birth. The state codes that outlined minimum age for marriage amongst young women was aligned to the English common laws which allowed girls as young as 12 years of age to marry without parental consent.
For most females, having the ability to bear children was the criterion that was used to determine the adulthood (Hall, 1922). Poor diet and common childhood diseases was responsible for the delay experienced in the physical maturity for most females. The majority of the females however reached menarche at the age of 16 or 17. The boys’ maturity was on the other hand measured using the ability to be independent and support family units. Most of the boys during this period engaged in strenuous jobs but only a few could earn enough money to gain independence and support family units.
The combination of the biological, social, and economic factors played a crucial role in limiting pregnancy and parenthood amongst the teenagers (Hall, 1922). During the 20th century, things begun to change as the industrialization concept had introduced radical changes in the lives of individuals. There were improvements in health conditions and economic opportunities opened up for the young members of the society during the Progressive Era. This encouraged young individuals to get married at a younger age particularly in their teens and early twenties.
This trend towards early marriages was in contravention of the social definition of adolescents which had become popular amongst the urban middle class families. In the 19th century, middle class parents did send their adolescent-aged children to high school and those advocating for the urban middle class family ideals held that adolescence was a unique period in the life of an individual whereby individuals could not be trusted with adult responsibilities. Parents were therefore encouraged to send their adolescent children to school instead of allowing them to work or marry (Lindenmeyer, 2002).