Sociological imagination is defined by C. Wright Mills as the “vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society”. It is the process of looking at your own life in the context of your society or community. This paper is looking at teenage pregnancy and the impact on society, and will provide a sociological imagination analysis of the individual and social impact. Being an un-married and pregnant teenager can be an incredibly challenging and scary experience especially if that child does not have a support structure.
The national Campaign to prevent teen and planned pregnancy (NCPTP) reports that 3 out of every 10 children under the age of 20 become pregnant at least once, and 67% of those new families are in poverty, of which 52% are on welfare (“the national”, n. d). Being a teenage mother comes with a plethora of issue for the individual and for society. Teenage mothers lack a level of maturity that comes with age and experiences, they may try to hide the pregnancy, not take care of themselves and continue with risky behavior that could jeopardize the health of the infant and the mother.
Their lack of maturity may led them to believe that everything will be alright, that they can be a great mother, that their boyfriend will eventually see the light and step up to the plate. But this is rarely the case, more often than not the child is born of low birth weight, premature or with other health conditions. Those children will probably suffer abuse, perform poorly in school and use the welfare system to help support themselves; it can become a vicious and publicly expensive cycle that is very difficult to break.
A teenage mother from a lower class broken family may have a completely different experience than that of an upper class family. She may experience poor nutrition, neglect and herself be the result of a teenage mother. A lifestyle of this nature may also lead to self esteem issues, drug use and other criminal behaviors. It is not uncommon for young women in this scenario to be a member of a family on welfare, and it may actually seem normal to them to become pregnant early and to go on welfare.
What we experience in our lives become normal for the small society around us and sometimes it is very difficult to move outside that circle, especially if there is abuse or a financial challenge holding them there. She has no life experience or a proper understanding of the responsibilities involved in raising a child. She is just following in the footsteps of those around her. This lack of maturity, education and vision limits how she views the impact on society.
She is so caught up in her world with limited exposure outside her environment that the negative impact on society may not even cross her mind. The costs of the programs she uses like welfare need to be paid by someone, and that someone is the tax payer. In 2010 463,000 children were in foster care and it is more likely that the teenagers in foster care will end up as teenage parents; those children are also more likely to end up in foster care themselves (“teen pregnancy”, 2010).
In 2004 the taxpayers needed to pay 2. 3 billion dollars to cover these costs (“teen pregnancy”, 2010). If you take this one step further and look past the total costs and go down to the individual that pays their taxes to support these programs, you may see more and more family struggle to cover the bill. It would benefit all involved if more effort was placed on education and programs to help control teenage pregnancy, and maybe we should all take a look at how sexual our society has become.
Teen pregnancy and child welfare (2010, August). Retrieved on April 30, 2011 from, http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/why-it-matters/pdf/child_welfare.pdf The national data to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy (n.d). Retrieved on April 29, 2011 from, http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/national-data/default.aspx