Evaluating The Effects Of Teenage Pregnancy
I can only assume that the most terrifying thing that could happen to a teenager (for the most part) would be to get pregnant. For most cultures, becoming pregnant at such a young age is considered highly frowned upon. The stereotype surrounding pregnant teenagers is that becoming young mothers would significantly hold them back from not only their social lives but from pursuing their desired careers. To Simon Duncan, an emeritus professor of Social Policy at the University of Bradford, teenage pregnancy opens opportunities and acts as a motivator for long-term success.
The most influencing article pieces are those in which include thorough research. The article titled Teenage Pregnancy Doesn’t Have to Mean Catastrophe – Research Shows It Can Be An Opportunity, is one that does not shy away from including said research. The author of the article, Simon Duncan, succeeds in providing a plethora of research sources to support his claims regarding what he identifies to be common misconceptions of teenage pregnancy. When I skimmed through his sources, they contained plenty of statistical evidence to demonstrate how teenage pregnancy is closely connected with poor living conditions. Another strength was Duncan’s incorporation of claims that conflicted his own but ended up strengthening his beliefs furthermore. One of the sources he used came from the Local Government Association, in which they discovered that ‘teen mothers are twenty-two percent more likely to be living in poverty by age 30” (Public Health 2019, GOV.UK) Duncan uses this source, and others similar to it, to his advantage by later claiming that because of those poor conditions, teenage mothers are more likely to become incentivized to do better for themselves and their infants (Duncan 2019, theconversation.com). In the concluding paragraph, Duncan makes it a point to inform his readers that teenage pregnancy should not be the primary focus in society. He states that society should, quote, ‘turn their focus to the wider issues of social injustice that make teenage pregnancy more likely to happen in the first place’ (Duncan 2019, theconversation.com). This sentence alone gave me the impression that he believes in a much broader form of change than simply attempting to understand why the rate of teenage pregnancies is rising.
Although Duncan had some beneficial factors to his article, I was very concerned with his inability to adequately explain how the living conditions for teenage mothers in the United Kingdom are similar to those in the United States. Duncan often switches back and forth when explaining similar studies that took place in both countries. In the same informational PowerPoint by the Local Government Association, they include a piece of information explaining how the U.K. ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Act (UNCRC) that is currently a part of their laws. This act gives children under the age of 18 the right to have ‘access to health services and to reach the highest attainable standard of health’ (Public Health 2019, GOV.UK). Health policies in America are much different and far more complicated, so I can only assume that there has to be some kind of limitation when it comes to the living conditions and access to healthcare for teenage mothers during the studies conducted in both countries. While I was reading the article, I found myself wondering how two separate countries with different laws and policies can conduct similar studies and end up with the same concluding answer. In fact, in attempting to present his findings of other studies that were included in his article, Duncan fails to identify where there could be limitations in the methods of experimentation regarding teen pregnancy. In the subsection titled, ‘Disadvantages and Teenage Parents,’ Duncan presents what is called the ‘natural experiment.’ In that experiment, the researchers compared a set of pregnant teens; one who completely went to term in her pregnancy, and one who unfortunately miscarried. The researchers found that teenage mothers performed better than those who miscarried, in terms of employment and income (Duncan 2019, theconversation.com). At the end of this paragraph, Duncan does not move on to elaborating where there could be limitations in that study, he simply ended the paragraph with the results of that experiment. This led me to wonder what the living conditions of those individuals were, and if those women are a good representation of the overall population. The last weakness is more preferential but involves Duncan’s inability to provide statistical data to not only strengthen his claims but to provide a visual representation of teenage pregnancy rates. He did do a good job in linking his sources within his article to support his claims; however, most readers are not going to take the time to look at every single source he attached to view those statistics. To those readers, like myself, who better visually comprehend material, having statistical data charts could be a helpful tool.
A sociologist would be interested in the connection between poor living conditions and teenage pregnancy rates. In evaluating the strengths of this article, a sociologist would respect the wide selection of credible sources Duncan used. They would also enjoy Duncan’s incorporation of conflicting claims, used to strengthen his claims. As a sociologist, Dr. Mary Campbell has stated, ‘claims that conflict your own will either encourage you to change your beliefs, or they will strengthen your original beliefs even further’ (Campbell 2019, SOCI 205). The last strength that a sociologist would favor is Duncan’s ending statements about feeling a need to look at the root factors and conditions that have led teen pregnancy rates to rise at all. On the other hand, this article would raise some red flags for a sociologist. They would wonder if the policies and laws in the United Kingdom are significantly different from those in the United States. If so, they would want to perform an ethnography to better understand the culture and social standards of a teenager becoming pregnant in the United Kingdom and compare it that of a teenager becoming pregnant in the United States. What if poverty (an apparent factor to the rising rates of teen pregnancies) in the U.S. is different from poverty in the U.K.? How could the study be affected by learning such information? In an online sociology textbook, chapter two states that the sample someone chooses to study must be ‘representative in meaningful ways of the larger population.’ (sociologyexperiment.com). Without an accurate sample, an ethnography would be difficult to conduct. With this in mind, the sociologist needs to realize Duncan’s shortcomings and identify the similarities between the U.K. and the U.S. to better strengthen the overall study. If there are significant differences, then the sociologist would try to determine a better method for getting the proper measurement for the population. With this in mind, a sociologist would try to move forward in evaluating Duncan’s failure to identify the limitations with the experimentation itself. Similarly, they would look at the pregnant women studied in both countries and evaluate the differences in their living conditions, access to healthcare, and social lives.
Research studies can be lengthy ordeals. There are so many variables and factors to take into consideration. Without doing a sincere search of your study, there could be certain aspects of the experiment that could potentially harm the outcome of the study. The missing factors within professor Simon Duncan’s article regarding teen pregnancy rates were minor but potentially damaging. He did, however, write a very informative article to let readers know that although most teen mothers are affected by so many social and economic challenges, they use those hard circumstances to motivate themselves to do better for not only their child but for themselves.
- Duncan, Simon, and Simon Duncan. “Teenage Pregnancy Doesn’t Have to Mean Catastrophe – Research Shows It Can Be an Opportunity.” The Conversation, 7 May 2019, https://theconversation.com/teenage-pregnancy-doesnt-have-to-mean-catastrophe-research-shows-it-can-be-an-opportunity-115527.
- Public Health. “Teenage Mothers and Young Fathers: Support Framework.” GOV.UK, GOV.UK, 18 Apr. 2019, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teenage-mothers-and-young-fathers-support-framework.
- “Home.” A Sociology Experiment, https://www.sociologyexperiment.com/product/studying-the-social-world/.
- Campbell, Mary. 2019. Sociology 205 Lectures.