What Do You Consider to be the Single Most Important Societal Problem? Why?

The single most important societal problem is a sexuality of younger ages that contributes to an increased number of children living in foster care and poverty. With the defunding of planned parenthood and the removal of sexual education from some schools in the United States, the number of teen pregnancies have increased in certain areas. Increased sexuality, decreased access to birth control, and lessened access to sexual education programs raise the rate of children born into foster care and poverty, things that have great impacts on our society.

It is not uncommon for children even in their toddler years to be interested in the sexuality of their own bodies, as they may touch and feel themselves even as an infant. While this sexuality is normal, the way that adults respond to this sexuality and what children see determines how soon a child explores sex. One study even shows that 46% of high school students have engaged in sexual activity and 62% of seniors have had sex by graduation. For this reason, sexual education should be taught at a younger age to prevent unwanted pregnancies in teens.

A teen’s ability to access birth control and the type of sexual education have a profound effect on the rate of teen pregnancy in an area. Overall, the nationwide rate of teen pregnancy has declined as of 2013. However, there are still problem states like Texas, which has two cities with teen pregnancy rates 40-50% higher than national average. In Texas, many schools use abstinence sex education, which tells teens not to have sex but does not explore their sexual interests. Additionally, girls under the age of 16 cannot access birth control without parental success, unless they are living apart from them and using their own finances to pay for it. Scenarios like this are the reason for the high rate of teen pregnancies in some areas.

Something major that effects availability of contraception is the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Since the Hyde Amendment, it is illegal for any clinic (including Planned Parenthood) to use government funds for abortions. The funds are used instead for services like mammograms, STD testing, and providing contraception. By eliminating government funds, Planned Parenthood will not be able to serve as many teens.

Finally, teenage mothers are not always in the best financial position. Having a baby can change the course of one’s life. Statistics show that 60% of teenage mothers do not finish high school and less than 2% attain a college degree by 30. Additionally, many of these babies end up living with their parents on welfare or in the adoption system. These are both systems that are already struggling to provide help. In Indiana, for example, there are more foster children than foster homes.

To keep the rate of teenage pregnancies decreasing, it is important that a quality sexual education program is offered and that contraception is easily available to teens. While the number of teens engaging in sex cannot be helped, offering education and contraception will decrease the number of teen pregnancies.

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