Popular culture, which is popularly referred to as pop culture is the entirety of thoughts, points of view, approaches, reflections and other trends that are considered chosen per an unofficial accord within the conventions of a certain civilization. This has been the case particularly in regards to the Western society of the early to the middle 20th century and the up-and-coming international normalcy of the late 20th and 21st century (Browne, Ray & Pat, 6). The mass media has been very instrumental in swaying the populace to adhere to these trends.
The expression ‘popular culture’ was made up in the 19th century and it was initially used to make reference to the learning and ways of life of the lowly in social class in the society. The present meaning of the expression, way of life for mass consumption, started off in the US and was instituted at the end of the Second World War. The truncated version, ‘pop culture,’ came later in the 60s decade. The persons who are mostly swayed and adhere to these trends are the youth. With modernization and the advance of technology, information and of all kind is relayed to every part of any nation, especially the first world nations like the United States. The people popular with the youth and teenagers are mostly those in the entertainment sector. These are musicians and movie stars mostly. The young people are keen to keep abreast with what these famous persons are up to and imitate their trends.
Unfortunately, the lives of these celebrities revolve around practices that the grown and mature generation find morally wrong and harmful to whomever decides to follow that route (Browne, Ray & Pat, 34). Most of these celebrities that the youth are passionate about live reckless lives. Their day-to-day activities revolve around drug abuse, immoral sex, nightlife, unusual dressing, and unusual body decorations like tattoos, among others. These are some of the trends that the growing generation is always keen to keep up with. Immoral sex is one of those trends that are on the rise and the foremost consequence of this is an increase in teenage pregnancy almost everywhere.
The main cause of this is the fact that the young are copying what they see and read about in the media in a bid to get consensual recognition right through the majority. On the other hand, this trend has come under intense condemnation from a variety of quarters and the one at the forefront has been the religious sector. From the religious and moral point of view, the trend is trivial, consumerist, scandalous and tarnished.
Popular culture and teenage pregnancy
Teenagers come across a stream of communications as relates to sexual orientation in popular culture. These are messages that form their personalities and learning practices in intense manners. For the meantime, teenage sexual orientation, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually spread infections (STIs) all the time more stir up public alarm. Up to now, though, learning institutions do very little to assist young people make sense of their sexual orientations (Ashcraft, 2).
Experts have reiterated that school will more and more turn immaterial and ineffectual if instructors are not up to snuff to concentrate on youngster sexuality and pop culture. This study aims to look at teenage pregnancy as a result of popular culture in the United States and compare it with the situation in Asia.
Teenage pregnancy among Americans
Popular culture forms an essential platform where teenagers make their sexual personalities. This is the case in advanced nations like the United States where these youngsters have easy access to all forms of media and as a result are able to keep attune to the latest trends. Teenage pregnancy has taken place right through America’s times gone by. However, it is only in recent years that the levels of occurrence have gone so high that it has had to be declared an urgent predicament. In jeopardy situations linked with teen pregnancy consist of therapeutic and health problems, reduced education and elevated school withdrawal levels, lesser profession ambitions, and a life bordered by impoverishment (National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy). The United States still visages calamity levels of unmarried teenage pregnancy.
Close to 10% of 15 – 19 year olds become expectant annually. Above 40% of the teenage population will become expectant before hitting 20 years of age. At present, approximately 400,000 newborns yearly are born to single mothers under twenty years of age. Investigations divulge that a lot of teenage girls become pregnant with intent as they cannot envision any other life aspirations that they can attain.
Weighed down by poor education performance and near to the ground sense of worth, they have no sensible prospects as regards to education or professions. As a result, pregnancy is perceived as another path to economic freedom and grown-up class. In almost all cases, teenagers who become mothers are by then having educational troubles, hold low learning prospects, and lack confidence that they will make it through high school. If schooling is not the problem, then the other reason is girls who are trying to break away from cruel and offensive home conditions. For such cases, following higher learning or a profession is not realistically within their accomplishment. They, thus, are left with emotions of despair as relates to their future. Such a factor combined with the absence of people worthy of imitation and poor living conditions, teenage girls make up their minds to become pregnant as this appears to be the best alternative.
It is also imperative to be aware that teenage pregnancy can be an encouraging life option for ladies from some cultural or societal factions. Family formation is a key element leading to teenage pregnancy in America. Research that has been carried out in recent periods reveals that a rising number of American teenage girls live in somewhat unsteady family setups. This can be attributed to changing ways of life and people are getting more engrossed in their careers and thus spending little time with their families.
Children raised in such families most of the times practice sex for a quick-fix feeling of console. Dysfunctional families deny children in the setup the kindness and care that they so much need and consequently, they go after relationships outside the family to heighten their sense of worth. Well-built family correlations and those with both parents have been observed to experience reduced teen pregnancies (Lawlor, 121). In the present day, puberty, arguably, comes about early in adolescents. This means that these youngsters are having sex at a younger age and the result is a more sexually knowledgeable society of young people. Statistics from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy shows that in the period from 1988 to 1995, the number of teenage girls who at first had sex at fourteen years of age or less virtually grew twice.
In as much as there exists no express connection between the time a girl hits teenage years and the likelihood of her becoming expectant, it is important to bear in mind that in advance start of teenage hood coupled with further peer pressure and reduced parental guidance and supervision ends up in teenagers making wrong sexual choices. With this increasingly becoming the popular culture, teenagers whose mothers bore child(s) as adolescents or who have expecting siblings are as well prone to get involved in premature sex and turn out to be teenage parents also. Future expectations in today’s popular culture have a major role to play in teenage pregnancies.
In most times, the experience of intended maternity is restricted to susceptible, low-income teenagers since they are more expected to envision their prospects as desolate and motherhood as a more honorable alternative. More often than not teenagers who gave birth underwent academic troubles or if no, they tried to run away from foul and cruel home conditions (Boonstra, 3). A majority of teenage mothers envisioned higher learning as unachievable, and they had little knowledge of their life choices and profession chances.
They saw no prospects for themselves and this combined with an absence of people worthy of imitation, they chose to become expectant as this looked like the most excellent way to go. Motherhood was seen as a thing that one could get into and which appeared socially conscientious, gave life a sense, and gave prospects for the future. Sexual Abuse has always been on the increase has been shown to change perceptions about sex. It has been observed that girls who have been sexually abused in the past initiate sex at a premature age and have more partners. Many teenage pregnancies come about as a consequence of unsettled emotions and conduct connected with previous sexual exploitation. Even though the greater part of teenage girls claimed their initial sexual incident was deliberate, about 40% of girls who had first sex at 14 years said it was unintentional with an older partner. Statistics also show that girls who were sexually exploited while young are more prone to become expectant in the course of their teenage years and normally become expectant at a more immature age.
Much in the same way, about two-thirds of teenage mothers were in the past sexually exploited and in many times suffered from a low sense of self worth and depression. Further studies revealed that above 65% of teenage mothers bore children with men who were at least 20 years or more (Boonstra, 13). The implication here is that an elevated amount of teenage pregnancies may come about from sexual exploitation that earlier thought.
Teenage pregnancy among Asians
In the period of the last twenty years, there has been a center of attention in the name of teenage pregnancy in the larger Asian continent and its island nations. Nevertheless, the list of items crafted to tackle this major concern has been founded on a deficient comprehension of the existing information. For instance, teenage pregnancy has been perceived as a tribal/racial subject matter (Population Council Youth in India). The notion coming out is that this issue is not a concern for the entire nation or community. Consequently, the public in the larger continent is in most times paid no heed to by community health crusades, strategy crafters, and public services schedules working at the significant subject matter of teenage pregnancy deterrence. This is the reason as to why in the year 2000 a two-way undertaking was crafted with the aim of throwing light on the allegory that teen pregnancy is not a subject for the entire Asian society and to put in the picture to policy drafters of the requirement to make available resources to prop up teenage pregnancy deterrence efforts. For the past three years there has been observed a remarkable change in the notion that the issue was not a concern for the entire community.
Compared to the United States, here there exists a huge disparity since in America the issues of tribal or racial affiliation as regards to matters like general education rarely do come to the fore. Whenever tackling societal issues such as teenage pregnancy and immoral pop culture, the education or enlightenment is directed to the whole populace. A comprehension of the matter of teenage pregnancy requires that the issues of the youth and especially women have to be paid attention to. When the teenagers in this community were asked what their take on hale and hearty sexuality means they gave varied answers. Sticking with one partner, protected sex, absence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), looking well after one’s body, pride in one’s gender, proud in being female and boasting of the liberty to come up with fine alternatives, were some of the responses that came up. All the answers given left an impression that underage sex has generally become accepted by the young and the root cause is pop culture (Dangal, 11).
What with the exposure to both electronic and print media even in areas that in the recent parts were considered remote. The research also went ahead to find out from these young people what according to them were the reasons as to why teenage pregnancy was/is on the rise. The responses given touched on societal, economic and political situations in the day to day lives of these youngsters. In particular, the popular way of life in the region is that there is a deficiency of chances to connect with grown persons or with one another as regards to queries or issues relating to sexual orientation. One respondent said that she cannot talk to her parents about sex as they will get the impression that she is practicing sex. In addition to that, her parents are rarely at home in any case since they are always at work. Thus, there is not enough time for her to bond and learn important issues from them.
This is the case with a majority of the modern day families, much the same as in America. The respondent in this case also came clear about what happens between the youngsters. They just look at things at face value, making fun at them since no one would like to look unintelligent as regards to these matters. According to several respondents, in this part of the world the sex tutoring lessons in school are more of a gag since they only run for a couple of hours and no one asks questions. This is much the same as in the United States. As a result, the youngsters are left to find out matters by themselves. No wonder then that the most accessible source of knowledge for them is the media since they have time to catch up with the latest in the entertainment industry. A majority of the celebrities that they adore have sexual insinuations in the way they dress and perform their acts.
The youth are, thus, inclined to ape these celebs in order to appear to be keeping up with the latest trends. Many areas in Asia do not have leisure and positive opportunities where their youngsters can pass free time and also keep their minds focused away from immoral acts. In America there are leisure areas but a good number of them cannot be said to hold positive opportunities. In Asia same as in the United States, most of these young people spend their free times in the malls (National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy). As the case is with the United States, pop culture depicts women and girls as sexual toys. This is the message that comes out in music, film and commercials, just to mention but a few.
For example, whenever a new product is to be launched in the market, female models pose with the commodity in a majority of the times. The impression is that the female gender is an object. This increases the female persons’ susceptibility to assault. Most of the teenage female respondents to the study admitted that sexual harassment and date rape had happened to them and their allies.
Many pregnancies occurred through this, much same in America. The society generally seems to have hit a low end, particularly as regards to the youth. A majority of them have a low down sense of worth and feel they do not hold any power. As a result they do not envision a future. At times, such ladies are left with the feeling that finding a boyfriend and carrying out what he desires never minding the outcome, is the most essential thing in their lives. These are the sentiments from regions having poor learning institutions.
What appears interesting and fun in such situations is only what they watch and read, a good part of it being the prevailing pop culture. In the United States the same is the case especially in the poor and densely populated urban districts. The campaign and efforts to make everyone look at teenage pregnancy in the region as a national issue and that there needs to be a change in the popular culture so that the phenomenon is reduced seems to be yielding much fruit (Population Council Youth in India). Media communications on this subject over and over again outlined the concern as a national matter and in most of the times labeled teenage pregnancy as core foundation for the region’s economic and societal problems. This general public argument and media fascination with the matter of underage pregnancy has been instrumental in adding force to the cost-effectively, culturally, and in a social context up to standard race and sexual category roles for low-earning women and girls. Popular culture mainly spreads through the media. Taking this into account campaigns in Asia against teenage pregnancy through the same platform have proved successful. When asked, the youth made out a number of reappearing communications touching on teenage pregnancy.
The foremost was that ways out sought principally to affect the personal-level conduct. This coupled with enticements go a long way in setting up personal conduct that exhibits fine ethical decisions like waiting for matrimony and abstinence. It was clear that young people who are not entirely able of being in charge of their sexual desires are fundamental foundations for the public’s rising poverty (Dangal, 12). To rub salt to injury, this poverty is at the cost of taxpayers. The campaign has shown that government involvement through rigorous societal and cost-effective strategies and regulations has the ability to turn the tables of underage pregnancy and births that are taxing to the community.
Disgrace is a general feeling that accompanies unchecked sexual activity, in particular among the young. To respond to this outlook, girls suggested that they work in collusion with strategy crafters and media envoys to communicate messages that do not appear to be at the cost of ladies’ wellbeing. Instead the messages need to make out the major causes for society’s problems which include disproportionate division of affluence and ethnic live outs.
This has been capped up with the message that any lady holds reproductive independence when she holds the authority and resources to come up with hale and hearty preferences for herself and her relations in all areas of her existence.
Recommendations for tackling teenage pregnancy
To begin with, teenage pregnancy has to be made out as an important subject matter in any modern society. Information needs to be gathered by all involved and concerned at different levels of strategy crafting and plan build up. This information, facts and figures are normally very important in coming up with solutions to tackle the problem. Having accurate data is means the problem is halfway solved since it has been fully defined and what is at stake is clearly understood (Ashcraft, 4). Following this then the areas having high teenage births should be provided with adequate resources, avails, and agendas associated with such pregnancy deterrence. These plans and avails need to be devised particularly to deal with the only one of its kind cultural and lingual aspects.
They need to tackle the main causes of teenage pregnancy. Exchange of ideas as relates to teenage pregnancy needs to be restructured with a perspective of generative independence. Finally, wellbeing improvement needs to be perceived as key to fully comprehending teenage pregnancy.
In a bid to deal with the problem of teenage pregnancy as a result of popular culture, a twofold approach will be appropriate. To begin with, sex education especially has to address popular culture. Secondly, society can no longer afford to restrict labors to deal with youngster sexual orientation and pop culture to sex teaching.
To a considerable extent, such labors must be widened crossways a broad array of classroom and learning perspectives (Lawlor, 123). Going ahead with this will be very important as it will help attain three enlightening goals. The first one being to establish a broad array of programs of study, for example skill, societal lessons, and sex learning, further significant and racially receptive to youngsters from various backgrounds. The second is to build up significant multiracial programs of study that cross-examines societal inequities, and finally, to obliquely establish circumstances that would cut down teenage pregnancy, sexually spread infections (STIs), and HIV/AIDS.
Ashcraft, C. “Starting with sexuality: Developing disruptive, democratic curriculum/classrooms for diverse urban youth.” (2005, March). Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal, Quebec.
Boonstra, H. “Comprehensive approach needed to combat sexually transmitted infections among youth.” The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy. (2004, March) pp. 3–4, 13.
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