In the past year, I have met two such young ladies who both became pregnant in the 7th grade and delivered their babies in the 8th grade. Instantly their “childhoods” became obsolete the moment they gave birth to children of their own. Thirteen and fourteen year olds should be enjoying carefree lives and not dealing with the responsibilities of parenthood.
Recently a friend wrote a “Letter to the Editor” which does a great job of detailing the casualties of teenage pregnancy. It was published in her local paper in support of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. I found the article to be so powerful that I am sharing an abbreviated/edited version in today’s post.
For years, we as a nation have allowed a robber to accost our children. This dangerous, mean, cruel, robber has stolen school attendance, high school diplomas, college opportunities, careers, healthy bodies, & families. Unfortunately the victims are complicit in the attack because they have not been made aware of and educated about this robber’s modus operandi. Today I want to expose this thief!
During the month of May, the entire United States will celebrate Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. It’s certainly appropriate that we celebrate as a nation; after all U.S. teen pregnancy rates reached their lowest level in 40 years, as there has been significant progress in all 50 states. According to the CDC, since peaking in 1990 (when 117 per 1000 teen girls became pregnant), teen pregnancy has declined 52% for 15-17 year-olds and 36% for 18-19 year-olds. Between 1990 & 2009, pregnancy rates have fallen by 51% for non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic black teens. During the same period, pregnancy rates have fallen by 40% for Hispanic teens.
The correlation of teen pregnancy to socioeconomic and educational factors is astounding:
· 62% of girls who have a baby before age 18 will not graduate from high school.
· Daughters of teen mothers are 3X more likely to become teen mothers themselves.
· 80% of teen mothers end up on welfare.
· 8 out of 10 males will not marry the mother.
· 85% of youth in prison come from fatherless homes.
· Children born to unmarried teen mothers with no high school diploma have 67% chance of living in poverty.
· Primary cause of poverty in America is children born to single parent households.
We can no longer allow children to be robbed because it is uncomfortable for us as adults. We can no longer allow children to be robbed because they are not our biological children.We can no longer stay silent because we think the problem is too big.
Evil flourishes when good men do nothing. ~Edmund Burke
It’s evil for a child not to graduate from high school. It’s evil when a girl drops out of high school because of pregnancy and there was no adult guidance in this area from her parents or the community. It’s evil when that teen mother can’t read to her baby because she can’t read herself. It’s evil for a child to be sustained in poverty because of uneducated parents or no father at all. It’s evil.
Written by: Valerie Hicks, District Coordinator for Adolescent Health and Youth Development, North Central Health District, State of Georgia
Are there teen moms who defy all of the above statistics and live successful and productive lives? Absolutely! Unfortunately there are far too many who don’t.
Is it the responsibility of parents to guide their children in this area so they do not become teen parents? Absolutely! Again, unfortunately there are far too many who don’t.
It is also unfortunate that society as a whole pays the price when parents don’t do their jobs. So, it is incumbent upon those in the community to stand in the gap when necessary.
If you are a parent,
- Don’t abdicate your responsibility in this area to the school. You should be your child’s first and primary teacher when it comes to this topic.
- Do whatever is necessary to educate yourself in order to address this topic with your child beyond simply saying, “Don’t have sex!”
If you are a concerned citizen and you want to know what you can do,
- Consider mentoring a young person who may not be getting proper guidance at home.
- Invest financially in an organization that provides education to youth in this area. If you do not know of any organizations, I can help you locate one.
Whether you are a parent or a concerned citizen, what suggestions do you have to address the issue of teenage pregnancy?