In Oct. 2009, a high school principal and city developers planned to turn a ramshackle crack house into a day care center in Chicago. From the sound of that, it seems admirable and a positive thing to do but there is one problem with this picture here. The day care center is being built for kids that are having kids.
In Robeson High School, there are 115 teenage girls that are either pregnant or already given birth. That means in each classroom, it is probable to find one in seven girls with a protruding stomach or a baby carrier.
These girls also make up the 4.2 percent increase in teenage pregnancy in the U.S. this month alone according to CNN.
The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. One-third of girls get pregnant before the age of 20 according to the Center for Disease control. There are 750,000 teen pregnancies annually. Eight in ten of these pregnancies are unintended and 81 percent are to unmarried teens according to Teenpregnancy.org, a site managed by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (NCPUP).
So why are there 115 teenage mothers in high school? Certainly, no high school should fail its student body by not educating teenagers well enough on sex and how to avoid teenage pregnancy.
No high school should resort to building day care centers for pregnant teens and their offspring just because there is a pregnancy surge. It is sending out the wrong message.
“Pinning down the reasons that rates have increased so widely isn’t easy. Some blame a more sexualized culture and greater acceptance of births to unmarried women. Others say abstinence-only sex education and a possible de-emphasis on birth control may play a part,” according to USA Today.
These problems that are causing teenage pregnancy need to be addressed or revisited.
First off, Congress needs to look at a way of buffing up George W. Bush’s absolute abstinence-only policy plan. It is a really good plan the only problem is that it does not work effectively.
“On one point, however, experts agree when it comes to teenage births, the United States is backsliding. Between 1991 and 2005 the teenage birth rate declined by 34 percent. Between 2005 and 2007, it crept up five percent,” according to the National Centre for Health Statistics.
The policy plan is anti-sex education, anti-birth control and anti-family planning. That is like having a Plan A without a Plan B.
It is good most high schools are teaching abstinence as a way to avoid pre-marital sex and teenage pregnancy. Primarily and foremost that is what all schools and other institutions should teach teens. However, to teach a teen or young person abstinence is to also teach them sexual morality, integrity and a commitment to be like Christ. That is where the problem lies, not every young person will choose to commit to be sexually moral. Some teenagers will unfortunately give in to the urge and pressures to have sex then get pregnant or pick up an STD.
In addition to the abstinence plan, schools should be able to teach sex-education and the use of contraceptives to prevent teen pregnancy with the given consent of parents. Schools need to teach and stress this but only as the next best alternative if teens decide not to abstain from sex. It could be the emergency cushion that protects teenagers from the hard blow of teenage pregnancy and STDS if they miss the high abstinent mark.
Another thing that does not help teen pregnancy in the U.S. is the newfound culture that perpetuates teen pregnancy to be part of the social norm. You have movies and TV shows that glorify teen pregnancy. In the movie Juno, a 16-year-old gets pregnant but it all works out in the end because she has the full support of her family, puts the baby up for adoption and goes back to having sex with her boyfriend. This is very unrealistic.
“Less than two percent of teens place their babies up for adoption. The vast majority keep them. We have large numbers of teen mothers, whereas in an earlier time, we had large numbers of married teen mothers, Most teens giving birth now are single,” CEO of NCPUP Sarah Brown said.
“Research on teen mothers shows that their children often are raised in poverty because teenage mothers are less educated and likely to have fewer job skills. Most of them will be and remain single parents as well,” according to LiveStrong’s online magazine.
That is far from the easy-going and rising popular trend that is associated with teen pregnancy these days.
Overall, abstinence is the key and safest way to avoid teenage pregnancy but all other options should be available as well even if that means sex-education and contraceptive education because prevention is always better than cure. Sometimes unwanted pregnancies can lead to desperate abortions.
Parents should actively talk to their children and warn them about the dangers of teenage pregnancy. Parents also need to take a step forward and reverse this cultural mentality that getting pregnant during teenage years is socially acceptable.
Seriously, whatever happened to the good old days when a parent sat with his or her kid and said “If you ever get pregnant, I will kill you?”