Funny story...when a teenage girl has sex outside of wedlock, many in our society consider her a slut. But when a guy has sex, even with multiple partners out of wedlock, he is applauded. Similarly, when a girl gets pregnant out of wedlock, our society thinks of her as a slut. But, her baby's father does not have to carry around any shame, and his life is not affected much. Meanwhile, she physically carries around her growing "shame" for all to see and discuss for nine months. And often times, not only are these girls shunned, but they are denied a helping hand in the upbringing of the child by the father, the public, and the law.
Seven hundred fifty thousand teen girls get pregnant every year and these young moms have to grow up quickly, change the course of their lives, and live solely around the needs of their babies. Many young moms will drop out of high school, and statistically less than 1/3 of all teenage moms that have babies before the age of 18 finish high school. This makes it nearly impossible for young moms to obtain higher education, affecting their chances at of employment and social class. To make things worse, less than 1/3 of teen moms receive any form of child support, and almost half of all teen moms end up on welfare.
This is not a funny story. This is another case of our society's double standard - attacking women for activities that are considered normal and/or commended when a man engages in them. This standard greatly affects the life of the mother (in the form of depression, poverty, and suicide), and in turn negatively affects the life of her child. It also affects our priorities as a society, and instead of helping these mothers with social programs and/or attempting to effectively prevent teenage pregnancy, we choose to blame the teen mothers for their actions.
Although it is very difficult to change people's perspectives through passing laws, I believe this is one area in which passing laws to benefit teen moms (and potential teen moms) and their children would be very effective in eliminating a lot of the stress that only a teen mom will face.
Sexual education must be a top priority, and it must have the aim of educating young people about BOTH abstinence AND contraception! In addition, sex education should relay how easy it is to get pregnant and the grave consequences that a teen parent will face. Another social service beyond welfare that should be a priority is making sure low-income teen moms can get childcare so that they can finish school and/or make money. Stricter laws should also be in place that force the fathers to be involved in the child's life, whether or not they wanted the child. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time!
Our society can't pass this problem off any longer as simply the fault of a teenage mother (hello! there are always two people that contribute to a pregnancy). It is our duty as a society to look out for the young people and to educate them about the dangers of teen pregnancy.
Below are some resources that can assist teens in getting help.