Thursday, September 16, 2010

Teenage Pregnant Slutty Mama

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.

Planned Parenthood
1-800-230-PLAN - 24 hour hotline will direct you to the clinic nearest to you.

National Office of Post Abortion Trauma

National Abortion Federation

National Adoption Center
1-800-862-3678 - dedicated to expanding adoption opportunities in the U.S.

The Independent Adoption Center


N.P. said...

I do think laws could help with this situation - but I think that the best way they could help is through increased educational programs. Sometimes it seems to me that laws seek to deal with the aftermath of a problem, through providing welfare for teenage mothers or day care for their children. But I think laws in this area need to take more preventative steps, and the best way to do this is through a comprehensive sexual education program. And this program should be one not merely targeted to women, but also the men who impregnate them as well. In fact, I think such a comprehensive program would lower the burdens on a strained welfare system and promote a society that practices safe sex.

Dusty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dusty said...

I used to be a safe sex educator for teens and young people in an abstinence only state. At that time, and probably still, it was often true that the highest rates of teen pregnancy occurred in areas that practiced abstinence only education. It suggests that comprehensive education might be a better approach to actually helping youth abstain from getting pregnant.

Betty said...

Agreed. Enforcing a more stringent standard on educating youth about safe sex is always the first step to take. I personally feel like the only way to uphold this is to make the requirement more and more rigid in the school system - there should be a safe space to talk about these things so that sex is continuously and consistently being moved into from the taboo end of the spectrum to the acceptable side of it, so long as the necessary precautions are taken and that teenagers are properly aware and educated.

About the double standard - what I'm noticing more these days, and this is obviously just my personal observation, is that the double standard, while still very much in tact, has toned down a bit. Or rather, and I hesitantly use this for lack of a better word, it's "evened" out a little more. As in, a female who has sex outside of wedlock is considered promiscuous/some other negative connotation, but the male himself is also regarded as a "manwhore" or promiscuous himself. I think that in itself, while not necessarily the proper step (we really just should stop chastising pre-marital sex, constant or not), is still a step of some sort in the direction of assigning the "blame" (or responsibility) more proportionally.

Rebecca said...

There was a terrific program I was aware of a few years ago that was considered an emerging "model" program. Below is the link.

Given the budgetary constraints in most states, government funded programs to assist teen mothers are being cut to the bone or eliminated.

More of the burden to assist these young women and their children will fall on the community at large.