While absolute numbers have shown a decline in recent years, the comparative teen pregnancy rates are still among the highest in the developed world, raising questions on the country's familial and societal support structure
New Zealand, much like UK, has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the world. According to kiwifamilies.co.nz, “There are 3,800 babies born to teenage parents in New Zealand every year, with about 50 teenage girls in every 1,000 falling pregnant.”
One of the possible reasons for such a high rate is low employment rates in low socio-economic groups, and - if a 2013 report by a parliamentary health committee is to be believed – a fragmented sexual and reproductive health-care and education system.
The same committee, in a bid to counter the problem, recommended distributing long-acting contraceptives freely (or at low-cost) to women in lower-income families. Others including charity organisation Family First have called for more interventions from parents.
How the problem is viewed in New Zealand society has also changed over the years with Teara – the encyclopedia of New Zealand – noting, “In the 2000s teen pregnancy was seen more as a socio-economic problem leading to a cycle of poverty and welfare dependency than a moral issue.”
While the real causes of higher rates of teen pregnancies in New Zealand are still debated, the effects it is having on the future generation is certain.
First and foremost is the lack of any sort of financial security that teenage parents have or can hope to achieve. While teenage is the time when one hopes to embark on quality education and secure one's future, teenage parents spend their time worrying about finances necessary to raise the new-born.
This, lack of time, affects their social life too.
Also, as majority teenage fathers shy away from their responsibilities, teenage girls are often left to raise the child alone, leading to dysfunctional families.
Additionally, as parenting in itself is a tough ask even for fully mature adults, to expect teenagers to raise a child is all the more unrealistic. Teen parents are emotionally unprepared for parenting to say the least, which is not healthy for the mental and physical well-being of the new-born.