Teenage Moms and Poverty

girl_stare sxchu matchstickIn 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.”

Why It Matters: Teenage Pregnancy and Education.  A pdf report from www.teenpregnancy.org, which gives some alarming statistics, like:

  • 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

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4 responses to “Teenage Moms and Poverty”

  1. Lena O. Green says :

    I can really relate to your blog. I too was a teenage girl from Allendale who became pregnant before completing high school. I was 16 and very confused. This was back in the early 70’s and it was looked upon as a “disgrace.” I got married and became a wife, mother, and the story continues… Did I let that hinder me from setting and reaching goals? No! God knew me before I was conceived in my mother’s womb. I was destined to be who I am today. Thank God I had praying parents who never gave up on me. Young teen girls who become pregnant have to have someone to speak positive into them. Making a mistake in life should not make you feel like “it’s the end of the world.” God wants to have a relationship with you and He wants us to cast every care onto Him. I thank God for not giving up on me and He is worthy to be praised.

    • joeyespinosa says :

      I’m so glad that you had someone who was a positive influence and support for you. We (as a society) need to do that same thing for other teen moms. It’s easy (at least from my corrupted mindset) to write others off and ignore them.

  2. Janet says :

    “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.”

    So culture is your roadmap? If that’s your premise then “unmarried” is of little concern, as that too is our culture.

    • joeyespinosa says :

      I’m not exactly sure what you are saying, so I may be mistaken in my response. But I’m not saying that we should follow the cultural norms as our context.

      My point was that happening to be 19 years old (or some other young age) as a mother is not a negative thing, in and of itself. But most of the time, teenagers who get pregnant are unmarried and/or in poverty. And children who grow up in single-parent homes and in poverty face bigger challenges than those who grow up in married and well-resource families.

      I may not have been clear in what I originally wrote, so I hope this clarifies it somewhat.

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