Teenage Moms and Poverty
In my first year living in Allendale, there was a large occurrence of pregnant teenagers in the high school. How big? Try 15-20 girls, out of a school of 400 students. This past year, there were only two pregnancies, and one of those young ladies transferred to the high school when she was already pregnant.
It seems that the school and district staff are making great efforts to curb this issue. And for good reason, since “kids having kids” can lead to a cycle of destruction and hopelessness. (I wrote more about this topic in Feeling the Pain of a Fatherless Generation: Forgotten Fairy Tales.)
Now, let’s remember that there is nothing inherently wrong with teenage pregnancy. For most of history, women had their first children when they were teenagers. But we also have to recognize that in the context of today’s culture, teenage pregnancy is the result (and cause) of non-ideal situations. More specifically, the context I am referring to is that these young moms in Allendale are typically unmarried and in poverty.
On this note, here are some articles on this topic . . .
Pre-Teen Literacy a Strong Predictor of Pregnancy. In a study of 12,000 girls in Philadelphia, those with a below average reading ability in the 7th grade were more than twice as likely to give birth during their teenage years, compared to those with average reading ability. African-American and Hispanic girls were overrepresented in the lower-level reading group. “It is quite possible that adolescent girls who experience a daily sense of rejection in the classroom might feel as though they have little chance of achievement later on in life.”
- Pregnancy is the number one reason teenage females drop out of school.
- Less than 2% of young teenage moms achieve a college degree by age 30.
- Children of teenage moms do worse in school than children of older moms.
So, while we must work to reduce teenage pregnancies, we also need to support the young ladies who do become pregnant, and give extra support to their children, too.
Teen Births Map. I like visuals such as this map. However, the author’s conclusion (that “conservative” states have a high birth rate because of their focus on abstinence education) is a drastic oversimplification. This data shows nothing about abortion availability and rates. Additionally, as one commenter noted, a better correlation is between poverty and pregnancy rates.
**image courtesy of matchstick via sxc.hu