Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Teen Pregnancy

It makes me sad, but I don't know what to do about it. I know a girl who is 18 and pregnant, 14 and pregnant, and then I was just informed that another friend's son (also 14) is now going to be a daddy. Forgive me for being judgmental, but from what I know about each of their situations, none of them is prepared for this. Or, to be less judgmental, I guess I could accurately say that none of them prepared for this moment...for the life of a child...for how they were going to ensure a good future for their child.

Where are we failing our children?

Is it what they see on television and the graphic nature of the songs on the radio? (they surely can't be helping matters!)

Is it the parents? Are they not involved enough with their kids to either know what's going on or to stand up to their kids to say, "No!" to some of their behaviors?

Is it society in general? Do the kids recognize that we don't value them by the way we place the least amount of resources in the schools and put the least experienced teachers in the schools that need the most experienced teachers?

Is it the fact that we are unwilling to talk about and educate about sexual behaviors and be realistic about the consequences of those behaviors? Do we hope that by not talking about it kids won't participate in risky behaviors?

What do we need to do? In answer to some of the above questions, I know parents, mentors, and friends ARE addressing some of those issues head on and it's still happening.

How do we provide hope to the kids so that they can see further down the line?

How do we provide them with enough courage (and information) to either stay abstinent or protect themselves correctly?

It's heartbreaking to me. It's frustrating. I know the teenagers who have kids must go through a lot more stress than they let on when they are giggling, making jokes, and bragging to their friends about the fact that they are having a child. I know that they learn a lot of lessons in the process.

Some do a great job buckling down and making sure their child(ren) get every opportunity they need to be successful despite the odds against them. Others love their babies dearly, but don't offer the discipline or structure that a child needs...maybe because they don't know how and maybe because they're too busy trying to stay in their own childhood.

I'm not sure what goes on in all of their heads before, during, or after the child arrives. I do know we've got a lot of work to do. The teens who have made good choices and are now in college or working stable jobs insist that we're the adults, we're the mentors, we just need to keep talking because they really do listen to us.

But what about the teens who are making choices to be in risky situations? What do they need? I wish they could tell us what would work for them.
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