Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Baby Mamas... A problem in our Society

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
Imagine: Your 16 years old. You’re going to school, going on dates, and maybe saving up for your first car. You are living the typical,carefree, teenage life. And with one act, all that changes. Now you’re working toward your GED, spending your evenings changing diapers, and living off welfare. More or less, this what life becomes for the 820,000 American teens who become pregnant each year. According to teenhelp.com, the pregnancy rate in the United States is 2 times that of Canada, 4 times that of Germany and France, and 8 times that of Japan. And although the rate has had some slight decreases in the past few years, the rate is still ridiculously high.
But who says teen parenthood is a problem? I mean hundreds of years ago, girls started families as early as 13 or 14. But this is 2012 not 1012 and girls back then were not only married but were age equivalent to 30 year olds today. Teen parenthood ruins lives. The girls themselves have an especially hard time. Boyfriends, who swore they loved their girls to the moon and back, disappear leaving the girl all alone. Some families feel their daughter’s pregnancy brings too much shame to the family and they kick their teens out of their home and into the streets. Furthermore, motherhood is a struggle at any age, but especially ours. Many teens do not have the financial stability to care for themselves, let alone another person in addition to themselves. Because of this, many teen mothers end up in the streets, halfway homes, or in the best case scenario living under their parents for years. In fact, 80% of teen mothers end up on welfare because of their dire financial state. And what may be the saddest consequence teen pregnancy is the premature loss of childhood. They no longer have time to wander the mall, go to prom, the opportunity to be valedictorian of their class or work a part time job for fun money. They are suddenly catapulted into an adult world where they must work two jobs just to make rent, be up at 2 a.m. with a screaming child, all the while trying to finish high school in hopes that one day they can go to college or get the job they really want. Yes, it is possible for a teen to do all of this and still graduate high school, however studies show that only 1 out of every 3 teenage mothers graduate high school and receive their diploma. I would say it is very clear, that teen pregnancy is problem to fixed. But why is it a problem?

Poverty is a huge contributor to teenage pregnancy. A recent issue of the New York Times stated that the United States poverty level is currently around 15.1%, a record high since 1993. But what does poverty have to do with pregnancy one might ask. For many teenagers living an impoverished life, sex is an escape. They feel they have no hope for success or for escaping the life of drugs, gangs, and racism around them. They feel they have everything to gain and nothing to lose by having unprotected sex. Furthermore, not only is sex used as an escape but parenthood as well. These teens hope that a child will give them a sense of fulfillment or meaning in their life or that they can give a child everything they did not have. However even the teens living in poverty who DON’T want a child in many cases end up getting pregnant accidentally. These teens either don’t have access to or cannot afford contraception. Some simply do not know where to find it. These teens need to be given not only proper sex education but also hope and reassurance. They need to understand that a child, at this point in their life, is not the key to a fulfilling and successful life.

The media also plays its part in high pregnancy rate. To begin, girls are pressured to be more attractive every day. Between commercials for make-up and hair products promising to make you prettier and movies and TV shows displaying air brushed to perfection actress’ girls are forced every day to look in the mirror and think “Am I good enough?” And for some girls, the only way they can find a yes answer to that question is to have sex. Furthermore, how many of us can flip through the TV channels without running across a TV show not centered on pregnancy? Between Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant, Juno, and Secret Life of the American Teenager, how can teens not think about pregnancy? And although the claimed purpose of many of these shows is to steer teens away from pregnancy, according to a study done by Seventeen magazine in the May 2010 issue, 31% of teens said these movies and T.V shows make them want to get pregnant and 48% say that they get their information on sex, pregnancy, and parenting from these TV shows. Additionally, in the interviews with 4 teen mothers, they each stated that these TV shows and movies did not portray teenage motherhood very accurately. One 17 year old teenage mother said, “When I’d seen Juno…I thought pregnant girls could handle being young moms and balance everything.” Once she became pregnant she learned this was not true. Another teen mom said, “It didn't make me want to be a teen mom, but it also didn't look so horrible or unmanageable”. Teens need to be taught, that in real life, sex does have consequences and that teenage motherhood is not glamorous, a way to get on TV, or easy in any way. Teen pregnancy needs to stop being glamorized and start being confronted.

Although poverty and the media do play huge roles in teenage pregnancy, perhaps the most influential role is parents. Many parents do not confront their teenagers to talk about sex. Some simply tell them “Don’t do it”. And some parents even tell their teens lies to scare them away from sex. When one girl asked her mother about birth control, her mother told her that she would “become sterile”. Most of these parents’ intents are good. But as we have all heard, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” These parents believe that if they tell their teens not to do it, if they don’t tell them about their contraceptive choices, if they preach abstinence to their children their whole life, their kids won’t have sex. However, in many cases it simply causes teens to keep their parents in the dark about their sexual activity. And even worse, because these teens can’t talk to their parents about birth control or about sex in general, many of them have unprotected sex anyway. They have sex with incorrect knowledge about sex and contraception, which more often than not, ends in pregnancy. And this can happen in even the most wholesome of homes. My cousin and good friend grew up in good, Christian home, with good parents. Her parents didn’t let her date until she was 17. When she finally could, she was not allowed to see her boyfriend anywhere but her home and even then, usually under the watchful eyes of someone. Her parents continued to preach abstinence, and avoided the subject of birth control even though her mother said her greatest fear for her daughter was that, “she would get pregnant and not go to college”. And that’s exactly what’s happened. She is 17, her boyfriend 16 and they will have a baby this spring. I believe that had her parents been more accepting and open minded about their daughter’s sexuality, their daughter would not be in the situation they feared so much.

So how can these problems be fixed? I believe each of these issues have a common root: teens are left in the dark or deceived about sex, contraception, and pregnancy. Although parents and schools should not promote sex, they should not promote abstinence as the only option. Even the most moralistic teens have sex sometimes and they deserve to be properly educated and protected. Teens, whether in poverty or upper class, religious or atheist homes, need to be informed and prepared about sex. Simply informing teens about sex does not mean they will do it. But if they do, they will be prepared. As Jackie Joyner Kersee said, “It's better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.”




Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!




Site Feedback