As a teen mother of four children, teenage pregnancy is a social issue that I am very familiar with. I know all about the struggles, responsibilities, and hardships that come with raising a child. Unfortunately, I must also deal with ridicule brought upon by societies stereotypical views on young mothers. We are looked down on as if our age makes us less of a parent to our children. People automatically assume that we are on welfare, living in poverty, and have little or no education. We are forced to carry the social stigma that comes with being a teenage parent and I feel as we must address this social injustice. I am going to give you some statistics and facts on teenage pregnancy, while also giving you the thoughts, emotions, and perspectives of a teenage mother.
Arizona was ranked fourth in the country for pregnancies in females aged 15- 19 in 2005. In 2008 14,047 females under the age of 20 became pregnant and 230 of those were to girls under the age of 15. In 2009, 138.2 in 1,000 Arizona teens gave birth, much higher that the nation average of, 39.1 in 1,000. 55 percent of these Arizona teens were of Hispanic nationality even though they only accounted for 35 percent of the population at the time. Nearly 80 percent of teen mothers do not marry the fathers of their children. Once a teenager has had 1 infant, she is at increased risk of having another. Only 33% of adolescent mothers will graduate high school and only 1.5% will earn a college degree by age 30. The children of teen mothers are usually suffer with intellectual, language, and socio-emotional delays, as well as developmental disabilities and behaviour problems. Daughters born to adolescent parents are more likely to become teen mothers themselves, while son born to a women in her teens is three times more likely to serve time in prison. High rates of teen pregnancy cost taxpayers nearly $11 billion in 2008.
As a 22 years old, Mexican American mother of four I fall into many of these statistics. I was only fourteen when I had my first child, and I did go on to have more children as the statistic shows. I contributed to the 55 percent of Hispanic's that make up the majority of Arizona's teenage mothers. I did not marry the father of my two older children, and I did drop out of high school. It looks as if they have hit the nail on the head when it comes to me and my “situation.” As I keep reading threw the statistics I began to get angry, they have been correct with their facts so far, then I read that statistically speaking I only have a 1.5% percent of earning a college degree! Luckily I have already completed my associates and became part of that 1.5 percent of young mother who have been able to receive a college degree. As I continue to read the statistics, they begin to insult my parenting skills and try predict what my kid's lives will be like. My children were all born perfectly normal and have not suffered from any developmental delays thus far. Having been a teenage parent and knowing the struggles that come with it, I have done all in my power to teach my kids the road not to take. No mother regardless of age wants to see their son's behind bars or daughter's pushing a stroller at a young age. If we took the time to address other social issues that lead to teenage pregnancies, instead of just coming up with statistics that put us down, it is possible we could help prevent young girls from become mothers prematurely.
As a young mother reading through these statistics I feel as if society expects nothing good to come of me or my children based on the age I was when I gave birth. I am confident that I will go beyond society's expectations of a teen mother, others however, may feel discouraged and fear failure based on statistics that show they will never reach their full potential. We as at society need to change the views we have towards young mothers. I myself ignore the looks I get when I walking threw a store with all four my kids. I pretend I do not hear the whispers of people trying to guess my age, or how much food stamp I get. Our government refers to teenage mothers as a “drain on society,” because we are responsible for billions of dollars of the national debt. Our religions see as as sinners because we acted against the rules of God and participated in premarital sex. We are discriminated on a social, economical, and moral levels, and do not receive the respect that a “normal parent” would. A parent will do anything within their power to make their child happy and ensure that they live the best life possible. This task is much harder for young parents having to juggle school, work, and children but we still manage to get it done. We are no different than any other parent, and we deserve the same amount of respect for being able to take on so much.
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