Table of Contents
Abstract 2 Introduction2 Methodology3 Results
Teen Pregnancy Statistics4
Negative Impact and Shame4
Support for Teen Mothers5
Don’t Be a Statistic6
My Personal Experience7
Conclusion: There’s Hope for Teen Mothers10
Works Cited 10
When teens become mothers, they are suddenly victims of discrimination, judgment, and stereotyping. They are predicted to drop out of high school, apply for welfare, neglect their children, and achieve nothing to be proud of. For a number of teen mothers, expecting a child comes with stares, negative comments and mistreatment. Without a doubt teen mothers are discriminated against. Not any one person has business telling people when or how it is appropriate to start their families. Reproductive justice at its core should be about supporting people’s reproductive decision making and making sure that people can raise their kids with dignity. We cannot meaningfully stand for these values and shame young mothers at the same time. Introduction
If you’re a pregnant teenager or a teen mom, chances are you’ve already heard words like: “You’re not gonna graduate.” Or “There go your dreams of college.” Or “Now you’re gonna be stuck in a dead end job supporting your baby.” It’s these kinds of attitudes that set pregnant teenagers and teen moms up for failure. But the truth is, you don’t have to be another statistic. Teen moms can dare to dream just like everybody else, and in the same way you were dreaming prior to getting pregnant or becoming a teen mom. Being a mom now means you will have to make some adjustments, and it’s not going to be easy, but it’s definitely not impossible. Teen moms need to realize that there is no reason for them to abandon their dreams or their goals, and that they can succeed and help redefine teen mom statistics. Methodology
The method used to examine this issue will be to research online resources and databases. A description of the different struggles that teen mothers face is discussed. Also, the importance of supporting teen mom, as well as organization and foundations that are available to teen moms are presented. There will be information provided about my own personal experience from being a teen mother. The argument in this paper will be an attempt to convince readers that teen mothers need support from our society and should not be made out to be a ‘statistic’.
Teen Pregnancy Statistics
Teen pregnancy has always been a controversy in the United States. In the year 2012 there were 29.4 births for every 1,000 females between the ages of 15-19, or 305,420 babies. The U.S teen birth rate is higher than many other countries. However, the teen birth rates differ considerably by age, racial and ethnic group and regions of the country. Data shows that 82 percent of teen pregnancies are unplanned (hhs.gov).
Negative Impact and Shame on Teen Mothers
Ultimately, teens aren’t supposed to be getting pregnant so the American society automatically assumes that the ones who do are failures. Pregnant teens and teen moms are used as a warning to dissuade other youths from following in their footsteps. But these messages can be harmful for all of the other young mothers who are already living with the reality of caring for a child. Of course the public heath should try to take the steps to ensure that the youth have the education and resources they need to try and avoid teen pregnancy but it shouldn’t come at the expense of teenage mothers who do not deserve to be criticized.
Figure 1: This campaign was released during Teen
Pregnancy Prevention Month by the Candie’s Foundation.
It’s obvious that those initiatives serve only to add stigma to young mothers and do nothing to address the real conditions that actually affect young families and the poor outcomes that they can face: access to things like education, affordable health care, childcare and housing. Support for Teen Mothers
As a society why are we not supporting teen mothers rather than shaming then? The more support systems that a teen mother can build into their lives the more likely they are to become and overcome obstacles. Health-wise, economic-wise and emotional-wise, teen pregnancy and parenting can be tough. BUT keep in mind that can be tough for ANYONE. If you’re 16, 25, or even 40 a successful or non-successful pregnancy and parenting, largely rests upon your support system and how you’re treated. There isn’t any magical “right age” that makes someone a better parent candidate than anyone else.
Teen mothers don’t usually get the help or respect they deserve because our society is great at making snap negative judgments. If you’re treated poorly, If you’re told that you‘re no better than dirt repeatedly, Guess what – eventually you start believing it.
There are different organizations and foundations available for teen mothers to overcome obstacles. Alternative House has an Assisting Young Mothers Program that helps break the statistic cycle by providing house, counseling and training to young women who are pregnant or have young children. Young women can live in the shelter for up to 18 months and receive different services to help them on their road to independence (thealternativehouse.org). The Covenant House also has a program for pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers. Their mission is to help secure a brighter, more stable future for them and their babies. The Mother/Child program offers workshops for parenting skills and child beating. They also provide free on-site daycare so the mothers can complete their education or be employed (covenanthouse.org). Don’t Be a Statistic
I want to start by saying, you’re not alone. Almost half of the births in the United States today are teen pregnancies. The greatest advice I can offer to any teen mom is not to be ashamed. The fact that you are taking responsibility to carry through with it is a redeeming quality. Raising kids is not an easy job nor is child birthing. Second would be not to let people get you down. The best way to beat these people is to be more mature than them, prove them wrong by being the best mother you can be. Next, finish school and work towards your dreams. Don’t let the pressure get to you, hang in there. Take advantage of programs available to you. Don’t view your pregnancy as an end to your dreams, but an addition to them.
My Personal Experience
If I’m going to be honest, I would have to say that I do not believe that most young girls decide to become moms as teenagers. A couple of bad decisions and there you are, pregnant, and expecting your first child. So what happens next? You brace yourself for what is to come.
My life as I knew it was over and I had started down a different path that led me to where I am today. I was sixteen when I became pregnant. I had my son on my seventeenth birthday. The look that people would give me when I told them that my son was in fact my son and I wasn’t his babysitter or sibling, was a look of shock and awkwardness as they came to the realization that I must have been rather young when I got pregnant which is then collected with a look of disgust, as though I had just committed the most atrocious act possible.
Luckily, I had the support of family as well as my son’s father’s family. Although I didn’t have much luck with his father, we got married at seventeen and managed to stay together about 5 years before calling it quits. I didn’t graduate from High School but I obtained my GED when I was 18. I ended up joining the United States Army at 20 so that I would be able to make something of myself and provide for my son – on my own. I got out of the Army at 24 and thanks to military benefits I’m getting my education for free. I started off at a Community College; I got my Associates in Applied Science for Paralegal in a year’s time. I’m currently enrolled in that same school as well as a State College to get my bachelor’s in Public Management. I’m attending both schools in hopes to graduate early. I’d like to go to law school after.
I’m happily married now with an amazing 8 year old little man. He is one of the smartest, funniest, happiest little guys I’ve ever met. I’m not saying that I condone teen pregnancy or that joining the military is for every teen mom. I have struggled and worked hard to get where I am today. Whenever I first found out that I was pregnant, I lost hope in myself and everyone around me did as well. At the time I never would have thought that I’d be able to accomplish as much as I have in this short time. But now, I’m proud of myself and all of the people that didn’t have much faith in me back then continue to tell me how proud they are of me for everything that I’ve been able to overcome.
I’ve often thought about trying to be a spokes model and raising awareness to all teenage mothers out there and maybe this is the first step. I know that if I can do it – you can too. Don’t be another teen mom statistic.
Beating the Statistics – One Teen Mom at a Time
Myself, Tiffany Scroggins: August 2005. Myself, Tiffany Scroggins and my son, Bradyn:
Nine Months Pregnant, Age 16. November 2013. Age 25 and 8.
There’s Hope for Teen Moms
Teen pregnancy isn’t an easy situation to find you in. It will require you to make adult decisions and being your life as an adult. Take some time to study and understand what you may face, how you can overcome, and how you can become a better person because of your personal experiences. While teen pregnancy may feel like it’s the end of the world, think of it as the start of a new life, full of new opportunities, experiences, and lessons. And remember your do have options.
“Assisting Young Mothers.” Alternative House. N.d. Web. 2 December 2013 “A Helping Hand for Teenage Mothers.” Covenant House. N.d. Web. 2 December 2013 “Trends in Teen Pregnancy.” Office of Adolescent Health. N.d. Web. 2 December 2012