By Erika Panacci
Canada is seeing a spike in teen pregnancy across several provinces, and experts are saying a tough socio-economic climate is a key factor.
The national rate jumped slightly from 27.9 per cent of 1,000 teens being pregnant to 28.2 per cent between 2006 and 2010. The Globe and Mail reports that four provinces in particular have seen a much more surprising increase over the same time period.
For young women aged 15-19 pregnancy rates rose by nearly 40 per cent in New Brunswick, 36 per cent in Newfoundland, more than 17 per cent in Nova Scotia, and 15 per cent in Manitoba.
It’s more likely for teens to get pregnant when they have fewer options available to them such as employment opportunities or education said Lucia O’Sullivan, professor of psychology at the University of New Brunswick.
“A lot of child bearing decisions relate to a young person’s orientation to the future,” O’Sullivan said.
If teens have goals for their future, they’ll put off having children so it doesn’t interfere with their plans. If they don’t have goals, that’s when you see numbers increase, said O’Sullivan.
“When you take away those goals, which is often the case when the economy starts to tank, you find that the rates of child bearing go up,” O’Sullivan said.
Resources in the four provinces might have decreased owing to cut backs, said registered nurse co-ordinator at Humber, Catherine McKee However, McKee thinks the media organizations play a big role in teen pregnancy, referencing popular shows such as Teen Mom and 16 and pregnant.
“With social media, a lot of younger people are engaging in high risk behaviours,” McKee said. “Perhaps watching these shows, teens are thinking it’s an acceptable time to be getting pregnant.They do it on the TV and the stars are doing it, so why not.”
McKee said it’s important for teens to talk to a professional instead of using the internet to self-diagnose.
“We can help teenagers with how they face these types of problems that come across, and other ways to support them in making better choices,” McKee said.
McKee reaffirmed the message that teens need to put into perspective that having a child is not something that’s going to go away.
“They have to understand the huge impact at how it’s going to change their lives, and how now they have to care for another human being,” McKee said.
“It’s not like on the television and then the program is over in half an hour; you now have this baby for life,” she said.