Teen Mother Calls for More Education

“My daughter was born November 27th, 2008 (my freshman year in high school),” one of our 2012 Student Ambassadors wrote in her One World Education essay. “Thankfully, and with the encouragement and support from my family, I am doing great. I am a successful teen mom and my daughter is very well taken care of. Being a teenage mother is a very rigorous task. It takes strength, faith, intelligence, patience, and family support. Without those factors it can end in tragedy.  As of today, I am a senior at Calvin Coolidge Senior High-school and I will be graduating in June 2012.”

She is unusual. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that only 38 percent of young women who become mothers before they turn 18 years old graduate from high school as she did. In fact, becoming a mother is the top reason why teenage girls drop out of school, especially when they have unsupportive families, teachers, and school administrators.

Recently, the Washington Post received more than 100 stories on the challenges of being a teen parent for an article.

“Across all generations, to be young, pregnant and single is to be a target of judgment. These mothers have never forgotten the high school administrators who refused to allow them to walk with the rest of the class at graduation, the teacher who set a desk outside her room because she did not want to teach a pregnant girl, the baby shower denied, the turned back of a onetime friend.”

While many of the stories were from years ago, judgment and shame still happens today. That’s why seven young mothers started #NoTeenShame social media campaign a year ago to create non-stigmatizing and non-shaming conversations around teen pregnancy, while also promoting comprehensive sexual education.

Other obstacles teen parents may face include the financial and emotional toll. “Just one year of spending on a child can be up to $13,000,” our student writes. “Unplanned pregnancy or teen pregnancy can result in… depression, frustration, and fear, all of which can result in the baby experiencing abuse.”

Because teen parents face so many challenges, more governments are trying out policies to address the issue. For example, last year New Mexico’s governor signed a groundbreaking law that creates a parental leave policy high school students can use when they give birth or need to care for a sick child. In Colorado, teenage girls can opt to receive long-acting contraceptives at no cost and it has reduced the teen birth rate by 40 percent over five years. In the Washington, DC-area, four DC Public Schools offer free day care for students’ kids.

In our student’s opinion, however, education is needed the most. “Young girls and boys need to be more aware of the consequences of their choices and be fully educated about sex and the many challenges that come with it. How can a positive change be made without this happening?”

Image via Teen Mom NYC

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