With increased technological advancement, information is readily available on the internet and in mainstream media. With minimum control on access to content, children are exposed to all sorts of information, some of which may be inappropriate for their age. By the time they reach their teenage years, most children nowadays are exposed to explicit content, some of which touches on the issue of sexual relations. They are exposed to sexual activities by the time they are in high school. Due to the curiosity that comes when children attain the age of puberty, some of them try out what they see online or in the media. It has resulted in the rise in the number of sexually transmitted infections amongst teenagers as well as underage pregnancies. This trend has elicited the heated debate among adults as to whether teenagers should be encouraged to freely access and use birth control. Both sides of the argument have their solid reasons, and this paper strives to critically delve into their arguments.
Supporters of the debate claim that giving birth control to teenagers would help to control the rate of STD infections among children. They claim that since they are already exposed to intimate sexual activities, it is only prudent to help them in self-protection instead of dwelling on what can be termed as water under the bridge. Most of these sexually transmitted infections are expensive to treat, and they could also expose the body to further health complications. Others like HIV/AIDS have no cure and could be fatal if not properly managed. They are also associated with a great deal of stigma. In this regard, proponents of the debate argue that is better to help the young generation to protect themselves instead of exposing themselves to the imminent danger. Supporters also cite the high number of teenage pregnancies as a valid reason to give them birth control (Sedgh et al 225). Contraceptives, to a large extent, have the capability to prevent these incidences in case teenagers engage in the irresponsible sexual behavior. Pregnancies are likely to adversely the education of teenage girls as they have to take some time out to deliver and raise the children. This is a great deal of time wasted. Furthermore, teenagers do not have the financial and psychological capacity to raise children. In this regard, birth control would help a great deal (Cleland, Raymond and Trussell 15).
Opponents of the debate largely base their argument on the issue of moral responsibility. They argue that children should not be exposed to sexual activity until they mature and become responsible adults who can take care of their responsibilities. Furthermore, teenage years should be spent investing one’s time in school and discovering other areas in which they are blessed so that they can nurture their talents. They believe that it is immoral for teenagers to be engaging in the irresponsible sexual activity, laying blame on their parents, guardians, and teachers for failing to instill good morals in them. They believe that adults should be good role models, offering guidance and setting a good example to the young ones. The society can be described as ‘broken’ as children are allowed to discover things by themselves, without proper guidance from their seniors.
Blame has also been shifted to the regulatory authorities for failing to come up with proper structures to prevent children from accessing inappropriate content from the media and online. They add that content should be monitored such that teenagers do not access information that can corrupt their minds and by extension, their morals. I tend to agree with this side of the argument because I also believe that children should be guided as they grow to become responsible adults in the future. Allowing them to use birth control simply opens the door to underage promiscuity. Society must take responsibility in raising children in the proper way, especially during their teenage years.
Cleland, K. C., Raymond, E. G., & Trussell, J. (2014). Emergency contraception: a last chance to prevent unintended pregnancy. Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, 6(2), 7-38.
Sedgh, Gilda, et al. “Adolescent pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates across countries: levels and recent trends.” Journal of Adolescent Health 56.2 (2015): 223-230.