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This research work was designed ton examine the Perceived Causes of Teenage Pregnancy among Secondary School Students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State. Four research questions were formulated to guide the study. The researcher adopted a descriptive survey research design in carrying out this study. The total population of the study was four hundred (400) people ranging from fathers and mothers from early marriage homes. The sample consists of 200 respondents. A simple random sampling technique was used to draw the sample for the study. A researcher constructed instrument was used to collect data. Findings among other things include that economic factors, psychological factors, social factors and adolescent sexual behaviour are the perceived factors associated with teenage pregnancy. The study recommended that, parents should be able to provide the needs of their children, government at all levels should implement sex education as a subject in secondary school syllabus, and government should try to aid those defaulted teenagers in secondary schools by creating a conducive atmosphere for their study in order to make them have a sense of belonging and thus fit in the society. Finally, suggestions for further studies were made.




Background to the study

In developing and developed countries, teenage pregnancy continue to receive increased attention because of early age at which adolescents engage in sexual activities and the result of unplanned and unintended pregnancies associated with the risk and problem of early motherhood. Lack of adequate information, education and communication on reproductive health services and the perennial concern in different parts of the world reveal that adolescents become sexually active at an early age which lead to a high number of teenage pregnancy today.

In many developing countries, about half the population is under 15 years. These age groups expose themselves into sexual habit which have led many of them into teenage pregnancy and at the same time cost the adolescent their educational background, (Gyan, 2013). Out of wedlock pregnancy and motherhood is not encouraged in Owerri North community at large. When teenage pregnancy is allowed to continue, at times it places the teenage mother’s health in danger because of inadequate parental care received by the teenage mother. So, after birth, the risk of the mother and her child will be high. Those circumstances may be responsible for increase in infanticide, baby abandonment and child abuse. For these reasons, pregnancies among teenagers are creating concern for many industrialized countries today WHO, (2000).

Van, (2007), perceived economic factor as a cause of teenage pregnancy, he indicated that teenagers from lower income families are more likely to report having sexual intercourse regardless of the family structure or race. It is further pointed out that teenagers from single parent family homes are more likely to report having the family in combination with the high rate of schools fees in the present school system in Nigeria. These have exposed girls to sexual intercourse in order to make out ways to solve their problem of school fees in the school. This act at times occurred as a result of poor family background. Van further indicated that substance abuse was long recognized as one of the greatest health and social problems which resulted in teenage pregnancies because teenagers engage in sexual intercourse without making calculated decisions due to the influence of alcohol.

Added to the risk of being born by teenage mother, there also exist other associated risks for babies born into an environment that lacks life’s basic needs. Baby and mother usually stand disadvantaged and handicapped in day-to-day living. Teenage mothers are typically depicted as inadequate parents (BuchHoiz, 2003), then their children are thought to be a significant risk for maltreatments. However, the degree of risk to children teenage parents may be well determined by the financial, social and emotional stresses these families face. The critical factor being the availability of resources which after support and encouragement.

In recognition of the identified problems of teenage pregnancy and early motherhood, there are many welfare programmes and services available to pregnant adolescents in most of the developed countries. Family welfare programmes are considered as a set of measures formulated at the executive level to provide concrete support and services for the advancement of groups and individuals in order to bring about social change, family planning, education welfare services, food and nutrition. The form and content of a programme as well as its organization and administration depends on the culture and history of a given country including its values, customs and social structure as well as its resources and awareness.

The concept of social health emanated from the multifaceted view of health which according to World Health Organization (WHO) is a state of complete physical, social and mental well-being of an individual and not merely the absence of diseases or infirmities. According to Chijioke (2010), man is well known to be a social animal and therefore lives by interacting with his fellow human beings. Similarly, Oguguo (2004) observes that man’s nature, which cannot be effectively fulfilled without inter and intra relationship has equally created some social problems ranging from hatred to others, breed and nurtured by the so called jet age. These problems according to Ogugo (2004) are the evil effects of man’s social consciousness which health educators have designated social health. Some of these problems emanating from social health according to Asogwa (2000) are called social health problems. This is because according to him, their solution require community efforts, professional know how, co-operation of other disciplines and greater effort and time. Nwachukwu (2009) identified teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, drug addicton, sexual promiscuity among others as social health problems which are usually associated with the adolescents.

Chauhan (1999) asserted that development is a continuous process, which begins from time of conception in the womb of the mother and continues till death. However, that period of life that lies between the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood is termed adolescence. Njoku (2008) pointed out that adolescent is that spam of years during which boys and girls move from childhood to adulthood, mentally, emotionally, socially and physically. The period varies in length from culture to culture and includes the teenage years. During the adolescent years which spans between the ages of 12 and 20 years in Nigeria, Ene and Nnamani, (2000). Most teenagers experience a period of very rapid growth and adolescent growth spurt. This growth is accompanied by the development of reproductive organs and such secondary sex characteristics as breast enlargement in girls, beards in boys and appearance of pubic hairs generally. These changes culminated in puberty marked by the development of sperm cells in boys, ovum and subsequent menstruation in girls. The bodily changes that accompany sexual maturity are sources of both pride and embarrassment in the adolescents. Ajiboye (2007) remarked that adolescent is a period when the youngsters develop heterosexual feelings. This sort of feeling may lead the youngster to develop passionate affection for others. This may be attributed to why adolescents want to go out, engage in social activities, attend church services and carryout all sorts of personal exhibitions of themselves. Such teenage social interactions tend to create an atmosphere for personal affections, love which may even result in sexual intercourse. The sex hormones already in their blood streams constitutes a powerful force, which generates the sex drives and craving in them.

Sex is one area in which impulse most frequently conflict with moral standard and violation of their standards may generate strong feelings of guilt. This is especially so, if it results in an illegitimate pregnancy in a teenager. But in traditional Nigerian setting, sex is regarded as being very personal and exclusive, and any careless reference to it without caution, both in words or deeds is deemed immoral and irresponsible.

Thus, there is an apparent silent ban on the direct reference to sex. Consequently, girls abstained from pre-marital sex for it was a virtue for both the bride and groom to be innocent of sexual acts until after wedlock. Christianity also extended this restrictive attitude towards sexual expressions and participation. Nnadi (2003) reported that schools were built and managed by missionaries who imposed very stringent codes of conduct on heterosexual activities. The mission was aimed at preventing children from acknowledging any type of sex activities which was collectively regarded as acts of immorality and sin against God.

The situation however changed remarkably after the civil war with the take-over of schools by the federal and state government of Nigeria. Many co-educational institutions were established such that teenage males and females had more opportunities to interact with one another. It is worthy of note that prior to this era according to Ngwu (2005), the Western World had adopted radically liberated social attitude towards sex. He observed that sexual intercourse has become glorified and commercialized and all types of behaviour such as nudity, homosexuality and premarital sex recklessly and publicly expressed with impunity.

Consequently, Ngwu (2005) reported that today pornographic magazines, blue films and romantic books and novels among others are almost legalized. These could however be the reason why Okoro (2010) observed that effects of civil war, establishment of corresponding viability of satisfactory knowledge and acceptance use of birth control methods heightened the incidence of teenage pregnancy, abortions, veneral diseases, drug addictions, promiscuity, and other social health problems. Onyia (2000) had earlier reported that the pregnant teenager is usually maladjusted because she feels that she has committed a crime, consequently, she feels ashamed, guilty, not always accepted by peers parents, relatives and even to a considerate extent by the society.

One of the reasons for the high rate of school drop-out in the present is teenage pregnancy. According to Castle (2009), a disproportionate number of studies are committed by pregnant teenagers all over the world. Added to this are instances of violence and neglect suffered by teenagers forced to marry because of pregnancy in societies. He further outlined the following as the factors associated with teenage pregnancy. These are social factors, economic, psychological, adolescent sexual behaviour with reference to its consequences. Singh (2010) states that the normal tendency of adolescents is to engage in impulsive behaviour, simple by reason of their developmental stage and lack of knowledge at the particular period. This act, further facilitate the risk of sexual activities.

Definitely teenage pregnancies do not come about on their own; it is strongly rooted on numerous possible multi-dimensional factors. Some authors have proffered possible factors associated with teenage pregnancies such as economic, social, and psychological factors. But there is need to be empirically sure. In order to ascertain the factors associated with teenage pregnancies among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area, therefore this study is geared towards finding the factors associated with teenage pregnancies among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.

Statement of the Problem

Ude (2010) described the ramping with which teenagers get pregnant in Nigeria after the civil war. According to him, the problem assumed a large dimension with time and people started being aware of such unruly tendency on the part of these teenagers. According to Igiebor (2009), the pervasiveness of moral decadence has turned sex which used to be a taboo in the olden days to be seen as a symbol of sophistication by the modern societies, explicit expression of sexuality in various forms and sexually suggestive music are allowed which simulates teenagers’ curiocity and enhanced sexual intercourse which results in teenage pregnancy.

With these explicit expression of sexuality, health education and preaching against it were carried out by concerned individuals but all these did not bear much fruits as to stop the menace. Rather, according to Aneke (2012), many more teenagers get attracted to some “goodies” and were fully initiated into heterosexual relationship leading to increase in the number of teenagers getting pregnant every year. Nokidu (2011), observed that the problem is pretty serious as according to him, teenage pregnancies continue to be on the increase.

The teenage parenthood according to Ani (2010) is a reflection of the society. Ani further stated that it is a common occurrence and is fast trying to become part of our culture instead of a taboo. It is however a general observation according to Ezugwu (2000), that teenagers who fall prey to this problem usually get so embarrassed, disturbed, frustrated and become totally dislodged and disillusioned in life. He concluded that the future of those who would be leaders is completely shattered. This study therefore examines the perceived causes of teenage pregnancies among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State so as to proffer solution to reduce its occurrence.

Purpose of the Study

The major purpose of this study is to examine the perceived causes of teenage pregnancies among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State. Specifically, this study will examine:

1.   The economic factors associated with teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.

2.   The social and psychological factors associated with teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.

3.   Ascertain adolescent sexual behaviour associated with teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.

4.   The consequences of teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.

Significance of the Study

This research will be of immense significance to teachers, social workers, government and the students as well as school administrators. The findings generated by this study would help the government to use all available resources to organize a programme to educate both parents and the youths on needs and importance of sex education. This programme will go a long way to discourage early marriage and teenage pregnancy among the youths, which will in turn, stand to develop the youths and make them to be useful to the society at large.

This study will be of interest to the students who are the future of the nation, because the study of this nature will expose them to the bad implication of teenage pregnancy and this will motivate them to see reasons of studying and forsake anything like distraction among their peers.

Furthermore, the findings of this study will help the social workers in the area of counseling to know the absolute counseling activities and techniques needed to adopt for the benefit of the students. This will help school authorities and administrators to know the economic (monetary) needs of their students and communicate same to their parents on their economic responsibilities towards their wards in the secondary school during the Parent-Teachers-Association (P.T.A) meetings. Finally, this will also help social scientists to identify the causes of this social problem called teenage pregnancy and proffer lasting solution to the problem.

Scope of the Study

This study was delimited to the following: Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State. It was delimited to secondary school students (SS1-SS3). The context covered: the concept of teenage pregnancy, adolescent factors, social factors, economic factor and psychological factors of teenage pregnancy and consequences.

Research Questions

        The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:

1.   What are the economic factors associated with teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State?

2.   What are the social and psychological factors associated with teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State?

3.   What are the adolescent sexual behaviours associated with teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State?

4.   What are the consequences of teenage pregnancy among secondary school students in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State?