Obviously, the reason at the base of any pregnancy is sexual intercourse. But many researchers would like to know why the phenomenon of teenage pregnancy is so widespread. The easiest answer is that teens want to become pregnant, while this is not untrue in all cases, at least 80% of teen pregnancies are unintentional.
Research has shown that one of the causes of teenage pregnancy is the lack of a sense of personal responsibility for their actions, lack of maturity, and most importantly a lack of knowledge regarding sexual intercourse and contraception. Related to this, teenage pregnancy is often closely associated with poverty, limited education and employment opportunities.
53% of teens admit not understanding sex or birth control and this is a reflection of one of the most fundamental causes of teenage pregnancy, ignorance. Indeed, teens in America, especially girls, are bombarded with mixed messages concerning sex. Sex is seen as immediate gratification with no consequences, but preparing for sex makes a girl promiscuous. Sex is seen all over the television and in movies, but equal treatment for birth control methods is completely absent. Open discussions about sex are very rare.
If an adolescent female experiences low expectations for her future or lack of control over her life, she is more likely to become pregnant. Depression in general is another one of the causes of teenage pregnancy, leading girls to engage in risky sexual activity. Abuse of alcohol or drugs also leads to poor choices about sex and contraception, often ending up in pregnancy. Growing up in a family without an adequate amount of love or a father figure could also be one of the causes of teenage pregnancy, an adolescent girl will fall prey to the attentions of an older man in the hopes of receiving affection. Most girls are pressured by their boyfriends into having sex because they believe this will make their boyfriends love them more.
Researchers have studied European pregnancy rates and have seen that the large difference (10 –fold between US and Holland, for example) in pregnancy rates between the US and most European cities lies in that the European countries had better sex education, contraceptive services, acceptance of teenage sexuality, and low child poverty.
Surveys of adolescents have been performed to try and understand how they view the causes of teen pregnancy. In a 1996 study, 76% of girls and 58% of boys reported that teenage girls had sex because their boyfriend wanted it. One in three young men between the ages of 15-17 admitted having had sex because pressured to do so by his friends. 70% of girls in a 1997 study said that it was embarrassing for them to buy birth control or request information from a doctor.
The exact relationship between factors associated with teen pregnancy and teen pregnancy is unclear at the moment. What the majority of researchers agree on, however, is that teenagers need to be more educated about the real consequences of sex and contraceptive methods.