20 October 2009

Teen Pregnancy G-L-A-M or R-U-I-N

Not only is teen pregnancy on the rise. But its en Vogue. From celebrities to TV shows teen pregnancy is everywhere, and its never looked better.

"Secret Life of an American Teenager" centers around a girl who has a baby while still in High School. A new show on MTV "16 and Pregnant" makes me feel as if its going to be the next "Made" with trailers of girls saying "I'm 16 and I'm ready for a baby." Not to mention the movie "Juno" which was a huge hit and frankly showed the main character, Juno, more worried about her relationship with the main male character rather than the fact that she was bringing a baby into the world while still practically a child.

Teen pregnancy is something that hits very close to home for me. There are a HUGE number of teen pregnancies in schools all over the area where I grew up, as well as my own sister, who had my niece just out of high school. In my sister's class, being pregnant or already having had a child was a NORMAL thing. And with the economy as low as it is choosing to have a baby over going to college will lead to a life on welfare as the economy in my part of the state is much worse off than the climate in the more metropolitan areas.

But my question is not what happens to girls who get pregnant in High School, I'm sure a majority of us know someone or have heard a story of someone who had children young and how their life has been affected by that. I want to talk about the media coverage.

With shows like "Secret Life" and "16 and Pregnant" teen pregnancy is being glamorized by the media. Unfortunately for Bristol Palin she has been the only negative media coverage of teen pregnancy that seems to exist (and even that was against her mother NOT against her being pregnant and still in High School). When did this suddenly be acceptable? Have we gone back in time to a place where a girl need not look any further than to have children and secure a husband immediately after graduating from High School?

I am by no means anti-kids or getting married or any sort of homemaker ideal. By all means I hope to get married, have 2-3 children, and be a stay-at-home mom for at least a few years of my life but that does not mean I feel that I can do nothing but that. And frankly I feel that some girls who don't know what they want to do with their lives resign themselves to being mothers and homemakers when they don't know what sort of career aspirations to have because "everyone else is doing it so it must be a great life."

I know a sophomore in high school who has a 2-year-old. What happens to girls like that who don't have families to support them (her mother died of breast cancer before the baby was 6 months old). How can someone with hardly any life experience have the ability to bring a child into this world? And how can the media continue to glamorize something that could remove the chances of so many other aspirations for so many girls.

And I know, you can go back to school when the children are grown, etc. But where I grew up, there's hardly money for parents who have been working for 20+ years at their jobs to send their students to school, let alone to decide they want to go to school themselves. Not only that but students in High School do not have a steady income, most are working part-time jobs if they're working, leading them to NEED welfare and government assistance just to get by. How can a life where you are barely scraping by be so glamorized by the media. The girls who are having children at 16 are not all daughters of wealthy suburbanites who can take care of them, help pay for the baby, hire a babysitter so that the girl can continue to take part in her high school social life. It's just not conceivable for a lot of families and having a child could lead to the end of a young girl's life socially. No more cheerleading, or dance, or marching band, or anything simply because its not conceivable financially to pay for a babysitter for the mother to go to extracurriculars. Not to mention the number of teen pregnancies where the father of the child is NOT involved. The media has failed to mention that a young girl could very well be doing this all on her own.

It just sickens me to think girls don't see the million other options that are available to them. I watch as my sister now struggles to find a way to fit in taking classes while raising a daughter of her own. How can the media, adults who I'm sure have children of their own, even think to make something like this glamorous when it can read to the ruin of so many lives?

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