At this time of the year, many young women and men are marching down aisles donning their robes with the odd flat hat and strapping tassel with school colors waiting to be tossed to the opposite side. They are beaming with excitement at the prospect of being free from parents, rules, and get out and begin their adventure in life. Most who are privileged will be off to college. Some are hoping to get a job, others have plans to travel and see the world.
Unfortunately though, no matter how many studies researchers do, no matter how many clinics, in school special classes in health, Planned Parenthoods, doctors, television shows, ad campaigns there are, young women continue to get pregnant and thus their graduation (if they have one) involves being the odd one with the huge belly at the parade while everyone around them feels sympathy for the ruined life they have ahead of them.
It does not matter what researchers do to determine how many are or are not, young girls who are getting pregnant are ignoring birth control and in denial. These young girls are being raised in single parent or stepparent households, sometimes in abusive homes and the bottom line is that they want attention and there are plenty of young boys with raging hormones who are only too happy to provide it. Please don’t misunderstand when I say they “want attention.” I am not talking about a temper tantrum here. I am talking about girls (and boys) being raised in homes where there is too much of an emphasis on problems. An unhealthy household. A young girl who is insecure, does not have role models, is not being taught right from wrong, or who simply believes all of this mess [at home] is somehow her fault.
Meanwhile, as we blame young girls for teen pregnancy the boys once again slide away from responsibility. Why aren’t there studies that ask “How come you are not using protection?”
My most favorite study was one I found while I was working with a group educating the public on Team Parenting. This was a study conducted by Morehouse College in the 90’s which showed that in single parent and stepparent families, young girls are more apt to become pregnant and young boys were more likely to end up in juvenile hall. This was what I suspected already, having noticed the families I was working with in social services and my own personal history and knowledge of girls who were pregnant at an early age growing up.
Thus the concerns about ending or lowering this rate are not going to come from what we are doing already. It can only happen when we begin to realize that our country has a high divorce rate, as well as a large number of [never married] single parent women. For a highly developed country we should be focusing on this rather than solely being focused on young girls who don’t know any better.
The reason why the group I was working with were educating the public on TEAM Parenting is because young girls rarely if ever end up married when they are pregnant to the baby’s father. Even if they do get married, the reasons for doing so are not love and do not end up equating in a long-term commitment. In fact, the studies that I read while working with this group found that “the baby’s daddy,” if he does stick around through pregnancy will be gone shortly after delivery.
Again, instead of focusing solely on the young girl, more efforts need to be made on growing responsible men. Men who have respect for women, for themselves, for their bodies and for their future. Men who are not the type to abandon a child [or create one irresponsibly]. After all teen pregnancy is not the result of a young girl wandering around in a forest with fairies, elves and goblins.
At the same time, young women need to be developed in to mature, responsible people who are considering a future in academia.
This will not happen when we, as adults, continue to go willy-nilly into the throes of marriage, focusing more attention on the white wedding then on what happens the day after.
The following is just one more recent study on teen pregnancy that I read today which was copied into AAMFT’s newsletter. The type of study that I don’t like because it is trying to blame rather than focus on the real problem at hand, which I have just described above. I clip the article here however so that you can see just how many unwanted pregnancies we have today. Unplanned Pregnancies in States reach 4 in 10.