Teen Moms Ireland

29 Nov

As I have walked around the city lately, I have continually noticed a couple recurrences.  Two of these include smoking and young mothers—pregnant or with children under three years of age. Often times, I have noticed young mothers, sometimes even pregnant or with young children, who are also smoking. The smoking part is not what I am as curious about because I have become used to that since living in Ireland and amongst Europeans, but the young mothers have caught my attention. From what I have noticed, I would say I’ve seen an abundance of girls ranging from sixteen to early twenties in age with children.  Today I noticed some girls dressed in typical catholic school uniforms stopping to talk to a girl who looked their age, but who was not in uniform and was pushing a baby stroller with a cigarette in hand. This scene prompted me to do more research on the topic.

After doing some investigation on the demographic, I have seen that the average age (according to the Irish times) for women to get pregnant in Ireland is not what I expected—it is around the age of 30, and first time mothers is around 26. I found that in 1970, the teenage fertility rate was 16.3 births per 1,000, but it is now 16.8, and the percentage of teenage pregnancies per year is 4%. Also, Ireland’s teenage birth rate is one of the highest in the European Union. Interestingly, abortion in Ireland has remained illegal, unlike other countries in the European Union.

I know that teenage pregnancy has been on the rise, especially in America, but supposedly in 2006 was the first time in ten years that the teen pregnancy rates increased in the states. The U.S. beats Ireland (and every other country) in amount of teenage pregnancies, probably simply because of the difference in population size. On the other hand, Ireland beats America on amount of daily smokers, which I am not surprised about either.

I thought this issue might also have to do with secularization, and the fact that pregnancy out of wedlock has become more accepted; I know divorce, abortion, and contraception can be touchy subjects in Ireland due to the Catholic Church’s negative views and influence. This might have to do with why there are many young mothers. I was curious if the Catholic Church’s views on contraception may have anything to do with this, but it does not look as if it has any influence on that aspect. Interestingly, there was more information about teen moms in Belfast than in the republic; I believe this is due to a new abortion clinic being opened there recently. The research I found online was different from each source, so it is hard to exactly pinpoint the statistics for this topic. I think it is possible that Dublin in particular harbors more teenage pregnancies than the statistics for the whole country reveal. Overall, Ireland’s teen and first-birth pregnancy statistics were lower than I had expected, yet Ireland is close to the top ten on the list in amount of teenage pregnancies, which in relation to the statistics in the states looks deceptively low. I think the struggle between secularization and the traditional views and influence of the Catholic Church are evident particularly in this subject as well.

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