Warning: This is a very controversial statement and is not a therapeutic article because it is being written with my old hat on, when I was a Child Welfare Worker with social services. As a therapist, whatever your mindset is when you come in to see me, I will support you on your journey. That is because therapy is not about me. My blog is about educating people to the realities of the issues we face. It is not meant to be therapy. Sometimes I have to have a very assertive voice.
Thirty-two years ago I found myself pregnant at the age of 17. The time was 1980. I had to
request permission, from the minister, to continue going to my church. I had to endure my doctor badgering me with questions about the father – who I was engaged to. I suffered the humiliation of going to school everyday in my senior year wearing maternity clothes. I dealt with the emotional abuse from my mother about how I had gotten to this place. Yeah, it was a bitch but you know what, I never got pregnant again.
Truth be told, had I not been abandoned by my father, abused by my stepfather, and forced into an adoption, I would not have clung to the first guy who came along. So, as a young girl with severe PTSD symptoms, I fell into an abusive relationship that yielded a teen pregnancy. If I had been raised in a household that respected women and placed a high value on education, this never would have happened.
The NYC Teen Parenting Campaign is doing what it needs to do to wake up young girls to the truth of the consequences. It is not realistic to push parents to be more respectful to the women in their household. This campaign is coming from social services. When I worked for social services in Oakland CA for eight years, here is what I saw: the majority of kids brought in were from addictive homes. Yes there was physical and sexual abuse too, otherwise we could not have removed (for addictions alone). But I’d safely say about 90% of all our cases were addictions on top of the abuse. People who are using and abusing children are obviously not in the mindset of respecting women. You have to be blunt with this type of mindset. Also, the teen girls that I worked with had it in their heads that getting pregnant meant they would get out of the system – as a reward for being pregnant. This does not happen. Naturally if they are pregnant, it means the social worker is going to be on top of them even more (as I used to explain) because now there is an additional child to focus on. It also meant that the social worker had to educate them on parenting skills, make sure they didn’t abuse the embryo or the child once outside the womb. So no, they did not get dismissed from dependency simply based on the fact that they were pregnant. Rarely do these foster kids have a father involved who sticks around. The money to pay for their child comes from the welfare department – obviously since we are already paying for the parents welfare in the foster system. Oh and the pregnancy was ALMOST ALWAYS planned since they refused to use birth control. So yes, a very blunt campaign that says “Wake up and Smell the Coffee,” is exactly what is needed here.
I am sorry to hear that Planned Parenthood is not standing behind this campaign. I know that they are only doing it because it is the PC thing to do and they would probably lose a lot of liberal donors if they didn’t take this attitude. But they know as well as I do that in cultures that ostracize their children who get pregnant as a teenager (Asian) have lower teen birth rates then the other cultures who do not. If you are raised to understand that it is disrespectful to become a teen parent, and where the focus is on getting an education, chances are more likely that you won’t. If you are raised in a society where you are watching “Who’s your Daddy?” and glamorizing teen pregnancy on MTV; chances are you will take the approach of “it must be okay.” I listened to those teens voices for eight years in the inner city. Glamorizing teen pregnancy only holds women down. Women with potential.
Sitting around feeling sorry for people because they are ignorant is not the answer to the problems in America. We have a huge problem with teen pregnancy, with unwanted children (not babies but the older ones) and women who are against pro-choice. We still have an issue with signing the Violence Against Women Act, thanks to 150 Republicans who refused to sign the bill. We are one of the only countries in the developing world who does not sign this. If you don’t want the kid to have an abortion and you don’t care about the rights of women, then you need to be focused on keeping these kids from having babies. The irony here is that Planned Parenthood is in favor of pro-choice and VAWA. I know they are not in favor of teens being pregnant but I don’t know how they expect to end this from happening with the campaign that they have going at the moment. There really isn’t one. Planned Parenthood’s website is only telling you to find a location near you and get on birth control. They have been saying this since Margaret Sanger founded the program. It isn’t enough because the teens are just not into it!