Teenage Out-Of-Wedlock Pregnancy And Educational Pursuit Among Youths

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Background to The Study

The issue of pregnancies among unmarried teenage girls seems to be one of the social problems facing not only Nigeria, but also several other nations of the world. Surveys by researchers such as Briggs (2001), Gyepi-Garbrah (1985), Onuzulike (2003) and others revealed that teenagers become sexually active at an early age with corresponding high fertility. Teenage sexual activities in Nigeria also tend to be on the increase (Nwosu, 2005, Okafor, 1997). A major consequence of these increase sexual activities among teenagers is out of wedlock pregnancies that may result in abortion, childbirth or even death.

Teenage is often used interchangeably with adolescence. World Health Organization – WHO (1997) opined that, it is the period between 10 and 19 years when the secondary sex characteristics appear. Turner and Helms (1993) reported that the teen years fall between the ages of 13 and 19 years. Views and opinions vary among authors and researchers on the specific age at which it begins or ends. Adesomowo (1988) reported that the teen years starts at either 11 or 12 years and lasts to 19 years when the character of a person takes the permanent form. According to Nwosu (2005), adolescents include all persons aged 13 to 19 years who constitute about 20 per cent of the world population. Ezeorah (1982), Melgosa (2001), and a host of others agree that the teen years span from the 13th to the 19th years of life.

Bongaart and Cohen (1998) described the teen years as a period of transition from childhood to adulthood, characterized by heightened social awareness and accelerated physical growth. This period, they opined, marks the onset of puberty and biological maturity. It is a crucial period in the life of an individual because many key social, economic and demographic events occur that set the stage for adult life. Ukekwe (2001) described it as the most important period in human life, which if not properly handled, could lead to the most disastrous consequences in later life, especially among females.

Notwithstanding the varied opinions on the beginning and the end of the teen years, studies by numerous authors and researchers, as mentioned earlier indicated that the teen years span from the 13th to the 19th year of life. Based on the opinion of researchers on the specific age at which teenage begins, the present study will be based on the age limit of 13 to 19 years. Ukekwe (2001) held that teenagers are expected to grow up morally, and gradually observing the norms of the society into adulthood. On the contrary, some of these teenagers engage in premarital sexual activities, which expose them to the risks of abortions, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancies which has been proven to invariably lead to poor academic outcomes.

Pregnancy as defined by Gordon(1983) is a condition in which a female carries in her womb, the young before it is born. Similarly, Skyes (2000) defined pregnancy as the condition of carrying a developing offering in the uterus. A look at the two definitions of pregnancy above could reveal that pregnancy is meant for procreation and continuity. Hence, it is difficult for a teenage girl with pregnancy to undertake any academic pursuit.

Nwosu (2005) is of the opinion that when pregnancy occurs at the appropriate time and in wedlock, it is a welcome development, but if a teenager engages in premarital sex that may result in pregnancy, she is putting herself in a responsibility that she is inadequately prepared for. Teenage pregnancy therefore means conception by girls between the ages of 13 and 19 years. According to Allan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) (1988), teenage pregnancy is an undesirable phenomenon. Onuzulike (2003) supported this when she observed that teenage pregnancy interferes with expectation regarding education, self-realization and economic prosperity among the affected teenagers. Ukekwe (2001) stated that stress arises even when pregnancies are planned, and to think of unplanned pregnancy means that the girl has to restructure her roles because she is inadequately prepared for parenthood. Fadeyi (1978) observed that numerous cases of school dropout; maternal mortality and morbidity, infertility, abortion and children being abandoned in gutters, dustbins, latrines and other deadly places are clear manifestations of the malady of teenage pregnancies.

Teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancy has vital implication for population growth. Nwosu (2005) opined that there is a global increase in teenage pregnancies. She observed that more than 14 million adolescents give birth each year thus contributing roughly 10 percent of the world’s total number of births. Ukekwe (2001) noted that many of these babies are unwanted by their teen mothers. These babies, she maintained suffer from starvation, sicknesses, homelessness and abandonment among other complications. Briggs (2001) identified several complications associated with teenage pregnancy. These include; high blood pressure, preeclampsia, eclampsia, malnutrition, vesico vaginal fistula, recto vaginal fistula and death. He observed that when high blood pressure is accompanied by proteinuria, the teenager’s condition can worsen to eclampsia, which if not controlled could progress to extreme hypertension, seizures, convulsion and cerebral hemorrhage.

Besides the health consequence of teenage pregnancy, the educational pursuit/attainment of most, if not all teenage parents is hampered. Gorgen, Maier and Diesfield (1993) observed that students who become pregnant rarely go back to school. Stevens-Simon and McAnarmey (1993) noted that teenage pregnancy is a marker for socio-demographic factors such as poverty and poor education. Brown (2001) collaborated this when he posited that many of the teenagers end up as school dropouts. Action Health Incorporated (2004) also described teenage pregnancy as a major cause of school dropout among girls. They maintained that the pattern of pregnancies among young unmarried adolescents has assumed an alarming proportion, which if unchecked could result in undesirable consequences. According to Osuala (2003) the patterns of teenage pregnancy and its complications need to be addressed in order to avert the perpetuation of poverty and unskilled women in the economy die to poor academic achievements.

Onuzulike (2003) outlined several predictors of out-of-wedlock pregnancy during the teen years. These include; a history of sexual abuse, poverty, lack of interest in school activities, lack of career goals, poor school performance, unhappy homes and peer pressure among others. Audu (1997) also outlined several factors associated with teen pregnancy. These factors include; moral laxity, desire for wealth and materialism, unrealistic false marriage promises as well as the influx of pornography. Okafor (1997) reported ignorance of sexual knowledge as one of the factors responsible for pregnancies among teenagers. He added that adolescents in secondary schools have low knowledge regarding sex and sexuality.

Bariga where this study is conducted is a district and suburb in Somolu local government area of Lagos State. Headquartered in Gbagada, it is known to be the location of the oldest secondary school in Nigeria. The Bariga Area of Lagos is a known den of thugs, cultists, armed robbers and gangasterism. However, this study will examine the relationship between out-of-wedlock pregnancy and educational pursuit among youths in Bariga.

Statement of the Problem

Research shows that the teen years are the most stressful and confusing times of life. During this period, teenagers are expected to acquire education and skills needed for the future. On the contrary, many teenage girls engage in premarital sex, which expose them to the risks of STIs, poor academic performances and teenage pregnancies (Umeano, 2003). All teenagers who engage in pre-marital sex are vulnerable to pregnancy. Nwosu (2005) opined that over the last decade, teen pregnancy has been on the increase, with many of the girls abandoning their babies after birth. Many teenage parents do not go back in pursuit of their educational dreams. Many studies has been conducted in advanced countries on this subject area. Many of these studies though were conducted outside Bariga in particular, no evidence of what the situation looks like has been shown in the area under study. The pattern could be worse than what has been reported in other parts of the world. The need for a study of this nature in Bariga cannot be over-emphasized.

Objectives of the Study

The following are the objectives of this study:

  1. To examine the relationship between out-of-wedlock pregnancy and educational pursuit among youths in Bariga.
  2. To examine the pattern of teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancies in Bariga.
  3. To examine the causes of teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancies in Bariga.
  4. To determine the solution to the problem of teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancies in Bariga.

Research Questions

  1. What is the relationship between out-of-wedlock pregnancy and educational pursuit among youths in Bariga?
  2. What is the pattern of teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancies in Bariga?
  3. What are the causes of teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancies in Bariga?
  4. What is the solution to the problem of teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancies in Bariga?


HO: There is no significant relationship between out-of-wedlock pregnancy and educational pursuit among youths in Bariga

HA: There is significant relationship between out-of-wedlock pregnancy and educational pursuit among youths in Bariga

Significance of the Study

The following are the significance of this study:

  1. The results from this study will educate the policy makers in education and the general public including the teenagers on the relationship between out-of-wedlock pregnancy and educational pursuit among youths. The outcome will also enlighten on the pattern of out-of-wedlock teenage pregnancies, the causes and the solution to the menace with a view to securing the future of youths towards academic excellence.
  2. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied, it will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.

Scope/Limitations of the Study

This study is limited to teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 years found within and outside secondary schools in the Bariga LGA and they will be selected for the study.

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