Suddenly Teen Pregnacy Is Cool

April 2, 2009
By Ashlie Labarriere BRONZE, Broojklyn, New York
Ashlie Labarriere BRONZE, Broojklyn, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

For the first time in years, more kids are having kids and not just in movies. The teen pregnancy rate is up 4 percent for the first time since 1991, but nobody is sure exactly why. Some researchers say it’s just a “blip in the data.” Others blame TV shows and young celebrities like Jamie Spears, who told OK! Magazine. Being a mom is the best feeling in the world! The mayor of Gloucester blamed inadequate sex education when 17 of the town’s teenagers became pregnant this year. Mac Guff is the 16-year-old pregnant protagonist in the new movie "Juno." In the film, Juno decides to give the baby up for adoption. And the U.S. teen birth rate dropped consistently from 1991 to 2005, decreasing about 33 percent overall, according to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. However, the 2006 report showed a 3 percent increase in the teen birth rate from the year. However, Bill Albert thinks young motherhood has lost some of its stigma. Despite the declines, 441,832 children were born to teens in the United States in 2006.
"I think one of the reasons why this country's rates of teen pregnancy are high is that we simply do not have a strong social norm that teen pregnancy is not OK," Albert told Live Science. "I think that’s why the rates in Great Britain, Japan, Italy and the Netherlands are significantly lower compared to ours. There, there is a very strong social norm that there is a sequence to life's events, you don’t begin a family when you are 16 years old.”
Is young motherhood really hip?
Some experts here and in Canada dispute the notion that teen pregnancy has become trendy. "I don’t see any reason to think we have a general phenomenon going on here where young women are becoming pregnant because they think it's cool," said Don Langille, professor of community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. In England, however, pregnancies among women under 18 rose in 2005 to the highest rate since 1998, according to the Department for Children, Schools and Families in the UK. I think at least in our country what we should be doing is publishing information about this success story in teen pregnancy over the last 10 years rather than alluding to the possibility that things have stopped getting better based on no evidence,” he said. Langille pointed out another recent trend that calls the pregnancy-is-hip hypothesis into question. “Slightly fewer young women in Canada are carrying their pregnancies to term," he said. "To me, that’s an indication that young women aren’t exactly seeing this as cool."
Babies the new handbag
Whether or not the average teen thinks unplanned pregnancy is fashionable, there are numerous celebrity and pop culture examples of hip, unmarried moms. The Maclean's article pointed to Nicole Richie and Jessica Alba, and movies such as "Knocked Up" and "Waitress.” I think you would have to be naïve in the extreme to think celebrity culture doesn’t shape trends," said the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy's Albert. "The celebrity trend seems to be 'baby as ornament' — it's like a fashion accessory almost. I don’t think the effect is as direct as some might expect, but it certainly is playing a role." Other experts agree celebrity role models can affect cultural trends, but say it's difficult to tell how people will respond.
While some teens might look up to Jamie Lynn Spears, for example, and want to emulate her, others will have the opposite response, said Douglas Kirby, a senior research scientist at ETR Associates, a nonprofit organization promoting health education. Jamie Lynn might be the wake-up call some teens need to start having safe sex. "It's possible that people might say, 'She was the responsible sister, maybe I should be careful,'" he said.
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! You're late. At first you figure it's just nerves. After all, you took precautions. I mean, you were always careful, except maybe that one time...So you buy one of those home pregnancy tests. You sneak it into the house and spend one crazy, long night reading the instructions over and over again. The next morning, your entire being becomes fixated upon that unmistakable, red POSITIVE circle sitting at the bottom of a plastic tube. For the first time in your life, you understand the full meaning of the word "panic". Your heart drops into a deep, dark place you had no idea existed in your body, but you know it's not moving until you get yourself out of this mess. The crazy thing is that while your world is falling apart, some neighbor down the street took that same test and also got a positive. Only she's running down the hall to tell her husband the good news. But life's sort of funny that way. Okay girls, I know how you're feeling - believe me, 'cause I've been there. Now, we're not going to talk about Pro Life vs. Pro Choice-- this is not about that. This is about taking control of a difficult situation by surrounding yourself with the people who love and care about you the most and getting some good, solid guidance. Your first step may be to contact a school counselor or empathetic teacher. You'll probably need someone to help you approach your parents. Now you're thinking, "Liz, there's no way I can tell my parents". As rough as this may seem, believe me, it can be done.
I'd like to share something with you. Several years ago I was staring at my positive result at the bottom of a cup. If only I had known then what I know now, but I was just too full of myself to ask for assistance from the right people. I decided to do things my way...Back then, I figured that "Pro Life" meant no life left for me and whoever coined the phrase "Pro Choice" had a sick sense of humor. I mean wasn't it my need to be free and make my own choices that got me into this mess? Believe me, there was nothing free about being a pregnant teen. And feeling that there was no way out other than abortion wasn't much of a choice. I couldn't bear the secret alone, so I told my best friend and of course, I also
told the father. But I guess this news was just too hot for them to handle, 'cause by the time I got to School, all eyes were on me (or maybe it was just my imagination).My "trusted" friend volunteered to contact the local abortion clinics. Meanwhile the other "responsible" party figured he could raise at least most of the cash. After all, he was the father. As the days went by, the panic and fear only became worse. I couldn't sleep. I looked like hell and my body sort of floated through space, like I was no longer grounded and I didn't know where I was headed. And I kept saying over and over to myself, "What have I done? What have I done?” Then my day at the clinic arrived. He came with me and so did my "friend", who had by now told the whole continent. The counselors were nice enough. They calmly informed me of the procedure and risks. They answered questions and for one selfless minute I thought to ask, "will the baby - err... fetus, embryo or whatever - feel pain?” But that fleeting thought was overtaken by fears for me and instead I asked,” Will this hurt a lot?” A few hours later, I lay at home no longer pregnant and the relief that I thought I'd feel took the form of reflective depression mixed with anxiety, 'cause I had to keep hiding all bathroom evidence from my mother, Aside from a phone call, I didn't hear from him much. But that's okay, 'cause I didn't want to repeat this episode again. But believe it or not, two weeks down the road when I was feeling lonely, hurt and vulnerable, he showed up at the door. You see, he had that urge and I was fair game once again. But things were never the same between us. Hey, don't get me wrong, it's not like I didn't survive all of this. It's just that, well... take it from me, there are some things in life that you never forget.
Didn’t learn of my daughter's pregnancy from her, I received a phone call from the boy's mother telling me Alisha was pregnant. I called her a liar, slammed the phone down, and called my daughter at her friend’s house. "I want you to come home, right now." As my wife and I waited for her, I became angrier and angrier, I couldn't believe she was pregnant, and I couldn't understand why she hadn't told me. My wife was crying, not for herself, but for her baby. She understood better than I why Alisha hadn't told me. She knew my daughter was afraid to tell me. Alisha arrived, and we sat her down at the table in the kitchen. I told her about the call I'd gotten, and asked her if it was true? When her eyes filled with tears, I knew. It was one of the most difficult, saddest, disappointing moments of my life. I thought she 'knew better.' I was the one that should have known better. When I asked her why she didn't tell me, she couldn't speak; she could only put her head down and cry. I hate seeing my daughter cry, I never was able to resist her tears, and thankfully, it caused me to think before I spoke again, before I caused her more pain through my anger. "Alisha, why, baby? Why didn't you tell us?" When she choked out the words, "I thought you'd hate me," it broke my heart. How could my daughter think that? Nothing she could ever do would make me hate her; no mistake could change my love for her. Taking my little girl in my arms, I held her close to me as she broke down. I told her that we would be there for her, that we would help her, and respect the decision she made, no matter what it was. Holding the face I cherish more than life in my hands.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Jun. 25 2009 at 1:27 am
betty1997 BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
1 article 0 photos 3 comments
good luck in high school

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