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Policy Analysis Paper

Policy Analysis Paper

SW 3710 Social Welfare Policy
November 26, 2013
Wayne State University School of Social Work
Chelsey Pasha

Policy Analysis Paper


This paper focuses on the social issue of teenage pregnancy in the United States and Canada. It
talks about how this topic has been treated over time, and the effects it has on the young ladies
who choose to become teen mothers. This paper also focuses on the identification of teenage
pregnancy, and when it was first introduced as a potential problem in both countries. Teenage
girls who become pregnant are prone to many risk factors no matter where they may reside, and
often lack the resources to provide for a new born. Even with a decline in the number of teen
births it still remains an issue. I believe that over time, with education, the right mind set, and the
right influences, young woman will choose a path that does not involve the decision to become a
teenage mom. Young ladies will make a choice to stay in school and achieve higher education.

Keywords: teen, pregnancy,rates, United States, Canada, and contraceptives

Policy Analysis Paper

It seems as though in todays society we press issues that we shouldnt. We advocate for
social issues such as higher pay wages and health care for everyone in the United States, but in
the same breath we protest and boycott the right for social issues such as same sex marriage. All
of these issues are important, but society becomes close-minded when it comes to issues that will
never be acceptable. So what is acceptable today? Is it the young man who went to an
elementary school and murdered all of those innocent children, or is it the woman who drowned
her child because she could not control the babys crying? What about the teenage girl who is
fifteen, just found out that she is pregnant, and she realizes she has no one she can turn to for
help? How does Society determine what is justifiable? We shun certain issues and the people that
represent these issues when we feel they are morally wrong instead of educating them.
Turn the television on and you will see that there are shows which glorify one of the
biggest social issues to date, and that is teenage pregnancy. Shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen
Mom portray the life of the average teen mother. Teen Mom follows three young ladies on
their journey through motherhood. The ladies show you the daily struggles of being a teen mom,
but what they dont show you is the salary that they receive per episode. So are they really
struggling with being a teen mother? I watch the show and often think about how some of the
ladies live or have better amenities than myself and other young women who are teenage
mothers, and although I am not a teen mom, I find this show to be absolutely ridiculous. The
young ladies also appear to have a lot more support than the average teenage mother would have.
So I ask myself what is the message that MTV and other networks are trying to send when they
cast shows like this?

Policy Analysis Paper
Often there are many myths that are involved with sex and pregnancy. Myths like a
woman cannot become pregnant the first time she has sex, or a girl cannot become pregnant if
she has not yet had her first menstrual cycle. The most common myth is that if a man pulls out
before he ejaculates then there is no risk of pregnancy. Think back to when you started high
school, and think about all the feelings you were experiencing when you started that journey. Did
feel nervous, excited, or none of the above? I was excited and scared because I had no clue as to
what was in store for me. For some high school is great, but for others high school becomes a
harsh reality. Imagine being fifteen and told your pregnant. A lot of girls face that reality daily
and do not have the resources to help them make correct decisions along their journey.
Current Social Problem
Teenage pregnancy is a social issue within the United States and other countries that still
needs to be addressed even if it is on the decline. According to (Health and Human Services,
2012) there was a six percent drop from 2011-2012 in the U.S. Despite the decline the U.S. teen
birth rate is still higher than that of many developed countries. In 2012, there were just over 305,
000 babies born to teenage girls in the U.S., who were between the ages of 15 to 19 (Health and
human Services, 2012) The reality is that these babies are born to mothers who, sometime lack
the resources to take care of them. According to (Moore, 2012) There is a large population of
children in foster care. In the United States alone there were a reported five hundred thousand
children placed in Foster care at the end of the 2009 fiscal year (Moore 2012). This number is
absolutely shocking and I am almost certain that the number has increased and will have almost
doubled by the end of 2013 due to economic conditions. This data shows you that teen mothers
are opting for adoption, rather than taking on the responsibility of raising a child.

Policy Analysis Paper
In Canada the teen birth rate is significantly lower compared to the U.S. is significantly
lower and from 2001 to 2010 the Canadian pregnancy rate declined by 20.3% (Mckay, A 2012).
According to Charlton, in the article Sexual Orientation Differences in Teen Pregnancy (2013),
regardless of intention, teenage pregnancy is associated with numerous adverse health and social
outcomes, compared with women who gave birth in their 20s. Teens are more likely to
experience a repeat pregnancy, more unemployment, poverty, welfare reliance and single
parenthood. Infants of the teen mothers are more likely to be premature and die before the age of
one (Charlton, 2013).
Teenage Pregnancy Historically
Throughout history teenage pregnancy was not necessarily glorified, but it was not
frowned upon either because, marriage was the honorable thing to do and it was most certainly
expected of the couple. According to (Russellsage, 2012), In 1995 President Bill Clinton singled
out teenage child bearing as Our most serious social problem Also according to (Russellsage,
2012), The social issue of teen pregnancy emerged from social invisibility during the 1950s
and early 1960s when the rate of child births among teens reached historical peaks, and rose to a
level of public obsession just as rates of teenage child bearing began to plummet in the late
1960s. It was former President Jimmy Carters administration who identified that there was a
problem, but it was Clinton who recognized it during his address to the public (Russellsage,
2012). When land was cheap and plentiful, Americans began having children earlier and had
larger families. It wasnt until resources became scarce that the birth age rose. The timing of
marriage and parenthood rose due to the industrialization era; women were able to work in the
factory, which meant that women were waiting longer to have children (Russellsage, 2012).

Policy Analysis Paper
During the late 19th century the societal concern was focused more on the unmarried
condition of a pregnant woman, rather than her age (Bestage, 2012). Canada began tracking
information on teenage pregnancy in 1974 and tracked it until 1999 (McKay, 2012). The data
showed that the number of abortion and birth rates combined per 1,000 women ages 15-19
started at 49% and by 1999 the rate fell to 39.1%, a twenty percent drop (McKay, 2012). In
Canadas society today teenage pregnancy is not as taboo, but it is still looked at in a negative
way. In the olden days Canadas teen birth rate, was not tremendously high, but it shared some of
the same values as the U.S. did. Women were working and punching clocks, which meant that
they were waiting to have children. Canadas teen moms face some of the same economic
conditions that we do here in the U.S. Conditions such as poverty, lack of education, and
resources all lead some of our teenagers to become mothers at a young age.
Teenage Pregnancy Today
The graph below shows Canada at 12.8 percent in 2009 compared to the United States,
which had a rate of 39%. The graph also shows Canadas rate compared to other countries and
Canada falls near the bottom between Israel and Sweden.

Policy Analysis Paper
Today statistics tell us that the pregnancy rate has in fact dropped in the U.S. According
to (Charlton, 2013), It was estimated that 60% of sexually active teens reported using a highly
effective form of contraception in 2010, which is an increase from 47% in 1995 (Charlton,
2013). The graph below shows the decrease in the number of children born to teenage women
from ages of 15- 19 from the 1940s to 2010. (Beforeitnews, 2012). The graph does prove that
teenagers are beginning to take sex more seriously, which is great news. If one teen educates the
next about her safe sex methods the word will eventually begin to spread and the number will
decrease even more.

Services/Policies in Place to Alleviate Teenage Pregnancy

During todays current economic decline and hardship, it is hard for people to afford
health insurance, and the ones who do have insurance have minimum coverage. Most teen
mothers qualify for Medicaid, which was established for low-income families who are at or
below the poverty line. The Personal Responsibility Education Program, in the U.S. is
administered by the Administration of Children, Youth, and Families. The Personal education
program provides 75 million dollars annually to fund evidence-based programs that emphasize

Policy Analysis Paper
both abstinence and contraception use (National Conference of Legislature, 2012). All states are
eligible to apply for 250,000 dollars per year. The programs are required to educate youth ages
10-19 years old about responsible sexual behavior. The programs must address three topics:
healthy relationships, adolescent development, and parent child communication skills. FortyFive states in the U.S decided to take of the advantage of the Personal Responsibility Education
Program. In 1996 the Title V State Abstinence Education Program was initiated( National
Conference of Legislature, 2012). In 2009 funding lapsed for the program, but after the
Affordable Care Act came into play and the funding became available again. A 43% state match
is required in order to receive funding. In 2010, twenty-nine states in the U.S. including Puerto
Rico accepted funding totaling over 33.5 million dollars in grants for abstinence programs
(National Conference of Legislature, 2012).
In Canada community-based programs can be constrained by organizational and funding
limitations ( Beststart, 2012). Canadian non-profit organizations with charitable status are only
allowed to spend 10% of their budget on Advocacy. Youth workers in Toronto asked the
question, How can you have a fully functional organization that actually advocates for youth if
we cant go to city hall and advocate for an issue or lobby around certain things?(Beststart,
2012). Canada provides resources for teenage mothers and their families but the funding
provided annually does not come close to the amount the U.S receives. In Canada there are a
number of places that offer support for teenage mothers. Places such as Jessies Center for
Teenage Girls, Young parent shelters, and Sunrise Support for Young Moms just to name a few.
Canada also has Planned Parenthood, which give resources to young women.
Today there are many organizations that have taken initiative to educate and provide
incentives for young women in the United States. According to U.S. Health and Human Services

Policy Analysis Paper
(2013), The Center for Disease Control worked with south Carolina public health officials in
the Medicaid health initiatives. The program reimburses for the insertion of IUD, which they call
LARC. LARC stands for long- acting reversible contraceptive. The contraceptive CHOICE
program, was designed to evaluate reversible birth control methods found that LARC is more
effective than other forms of contraception such as the pill, patches and rings (U.S. Health and
Human Services (2013). The program educates young women about the use of IUDs and the
benefits that they have especially for young women/teenagers who already have babies. They
believe that many repeat births could be prevented through post partum use of IUDS and
implants. Also according to the article 1 in 5 births between teen moms are a repeat (Teen
Pregnancy time to talk 2013).
Through the Obama Care Program, President Obama is making birth control more
accessible under his Affordable care act, making sure that women have the ability to receive
some form of birth control. Before the promise of making birth control accessible women
complained of not being able to afford the extremely high co-pays. One day last year while
watching the news they covered a story on government and contraceptives. The government
argued that making birth control affordable would only promote teenagers to have sex because
they know the risk of them getting pregnant is cut in half. The other side of government argued
that birth control has beneficial factors outside of reducing the risk for pregnancy. According to
Moore (2012), Many states have laws regarding minors ability to consent to prenatal care.
Thirty-seven states in the United States have carried out these laws, and thirteen states allow
doctors to inform parents when the child is seeking prenatal care, if the doctor feels that is the
best decision (Moore 2012). This scares young girls away from seeking the medical attention
needed, because they are afraid that confidentiality will be broken. According to Pilon (2011),

Policy Analysis Paper
There is one program which sole purpose is to provide prenatal care it is called the SSTART
program. The program removes barriers to enter into prenatal care and establish a relationshipcentered care for models (Pilon, 2011). The program helps young ladies to keep their
appointments, as well as provide transportation and child care services.
Many believe that abortion should become a more affordable option in the U.S.
According to Moore (2012), New state laws mandate that the doctor show any women seeking
an abortion a picture of her ultrasound (Moore 2012). Moore also states that low income
women on Medicaid who attempt to have an abortion are completely on their own to fund the
abortion. Abortions are costly and can cost anywhere from three hundred to a thousand dollars.
Most women, who were asked if they would have an abortion, said that yes they in fact would if
it were a more affordable option (Moore 2012). In Canada the amount of abortions in certain
providences do not log the number of teenage girls who come in to receive an abortion, but from
the years 2001 to 2010 the abortion rate went from 19% to 14% (McKay, 2012). I have often
heard my peers talk about if they were possibly to become pregnant which option would they use
such as adoption, abortion, or taking care of their responsibility and most of them opted to have
an abortion stating that they were pro-choice.
It is important to lobby for policies for teen mothers, which bring more awareness
to the issue at hand. According to the National Council of State Legislature The Pregnancy
Assistance Fund in July 2013, The Department of Health and Human Services awarded
competitive Pregnancy Assistance Fund Grants, which total 21.6 million to seventeen states and
tribes. The fund helps pregnant and parenting teens with a continuous network of support
services to help them in completing educational degrees. (Clay, Lynda & Ruthbeth, 2012), The
policy discourse surrounding this issue of teenage pregnancy can become polarized and

Policy Analysis Paper
impassioned when opposing interest get involved and attempt to curve the political environment
with the influence and problem definition and preferred policy solutions. The U.S culture for the
most part is uncomfortable with public discussion of such a private matter (Clay, Lynda &
Ruthbeth, 2012). Clay, Lynda and Ruthbeth also go on to mention that The publics amount of
discomfort and their wish to punish young women who they label as promiscuous also puts a
strain on the ability to effectively negotiate the issue as well as well find solutions (Clay, Lynda
& Ruthbeth, 2012). They hit the issue on the nail. As I mentioned earlier society gets to decide
what is okay and what isnt. By passing the issue, or avoiding it we miss out on a great
opportunity to help our teen moms.

Social Stigmatizations
The social stigmatizations teen moms face are often harsh. They are normally stigmatized
as poor and uneducated. 1 in 5 teen mothers have another baby right after the first one, so people
believe that educating young women about teen pregnancy is ineffective. Even with the different
forms of birth control many believe that getting teenage girls to take the pill everyday or keep up
with doctors appointments to check on the IUD is asking for way to much, because they simply
lack the will to do so. There are programs like WIC, which help mothers, who are low-income,
or not working to buy food and formula for their families. There are also single mother classes at
hospitals that meet weekly and discuss the challenges of being a single mother. They have
schools, which offer a chance for teen moms to learn, while their child is in the next room and
some girls are placed in alternative living houses. These houses provide shelter to young ladies
and their children who may not have anywhere to go because they were kicked out or they were
already placed in the foster care system and didnt want their child to be placed in the system as

Policy Analysis Paper
well. According to Moore (2012), Girls placed in foster care get pregnant way more. In 2005
the New York City office of the Public Advocate estimated that as many as one in six young
women in the Foster Care system who are pregnant are already mothers (Moore 2012).
In Canada the same stigmatizations are placed upon young girls who are teenage mothers.
They view young teens that have children as social misfits who missed out on life (Beststart,
2012). Many feel as though the will to want to take birth control or make sure the necessary
contraceptives are available are just not in the mind frame of a young adolescent girl. Most
people feel that a young girl is often embarrassed or ashamed to ask her partner to use a condom,
so they dont approach the subject. The stigmatizations that are placed upon teenage mothers in
countries that are more advanced are often harsh. In countries that are not as advanced as the
United States and Canada teenage pregnancy is not so taboo.

Global differences and Similarities of the U.S. and Canada

In the United States the teenage pregnancy rate is higher than most countries. The U.S
however has access to multiple forms of healthcare. Americans can choose to have basic
coverage or the best healthcare money can buy. In Canada there is only one form of health care
coverage for everyone. Canadian health care is government controlled but not government
owned, so therefore doctors and private practices are funded through taxes. The current Canadian
health care system was established in 1984. From the time a person is born until the time they
die, they are covered under the basic form of health care, which generally does not cost anything
(Mangas, 2013).
The Canadian teenage pregnancy rate still stands to be significantly lower than the United
States. The U.S has more resources to provide teenage mothers and their babies with. Each year

Policy Analysis Paper
in the U.S. certain states receive grants and funding to help with sex education and the cost of
raising a baby. Canada does not receive as nearly as much funding for teen mothers and I believe
it is due to the low rate of children born to teenage mothers. In comparison the United States and
Canada both showed signs of the teen pregnancy rates dropping, but the United States has a long
way to go. Due to the economy in the United States we lack a lot of resources and financial
funding to be able to help everyone including our teen moms. The Affordable Care Act lets
citizens pick the most basic coverage or the best, but even with the Affordable Care Act The
United States is still struggling to accommodate everyone.
Social Work Values
In Social work our ethical principles list that we are called to serve and respect every
situation. We have to serve every population that is presented to us no matter if it hits a personal
nerve within or not. As social workers the code of the Ethics list that we should treat everyone
with dignity and Worth. We are called to give Competence, which means staying within our
means and providing accurate resources (NASW, 2008). As Social Workers we are called to
provide services to those who are in need and helping a young lady who has just become a teen
mother is our call to serve. Teenage pregnancy is a social problem but the Code of Ethics
provided by the NASW provides number of principles and ethics that we are to adhere by.
I was always taught that if you knew better you could do better. Teen mothers need our
support and guidance and the teenage girls who arent mothers need guidance as well. We have
to advocate for better laws and healthcare for teen moms as well as better schooling and housing
programs. The change begins within our individual selves first.
References (2012). Teen pregnancy prevention:exploring out-of-school approaches. Retrieved

Policy Analysis Paper
Charlton, B. (2013). Sexual orientation differences in teen pregnancy and hormonal
contraceptive use: an examination across 2 generations. American Journal of Obstetrics
and Gynecology, doi:
Clay, J., Lynda, M., & Ruthbeth, F. (2012). Building relationships to strategically impact
community initiatives to reduce teen pregnancy. Journal of Health and Human Services
Administration, doi:
Code of ethics of the national association of social workers . (2008). Retrieved from
Mangas, M. (2013, November 15). Comparing canada vs.u.s. health care. Retrieved from
McKay, A. (2012). Trends in canadian national and provincial/territorial teen pregnancy rates:
2001-2010. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, doi:
Moore, K. (2012). Pregnant in foster care: prenatal care, abortion, and the consequences for
foster families. Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, doi:
National Conference of State Legislatures, (2012). Teen pregnancy prevention. Retrieved from

Policy Analysis Paper
Pilon, B. (2011). Removing the barriers to prenatal care and education for teens--rock-a-bye
teens: an early sstart program. International Journal of Childbirth Education, doi:
Teal, S., & Romer, E. (2013). Awareness of long-acting reversible contraception among teens
and young adults. Journal of Adolescent Health , doi:
Teenage pregnancy and childbearing. (n.d.). Retrieved from
The history of teenage childbearing as a social problem. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Speculating on why u.s. teenage pregnancy rates are at historic lows. (April, 2012 10). Retrieved
Stobbe, M. (2010, December 30). Us teen birth rate still far higher than w. europe. Retrieved