Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Teen Moms

Today is the tenth annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. I think most people would see this as a worthy cause, and of course, I agree.

However, in a recent project with my job, I have been working with high risk girls.* In these workshops, I have encountered dozens of pregnant and parenting teens.

Working directly with young mothers and young mothers to be has truly changed how I feel about the way we, as a society, treat teen pregnancy. On one hand, we utterly vilianize young mothers, stereotype them as welfare queens, drop outs, and dead ends. On the other hand, we do a piss poor job of giving teens the tools and information needed to prevent unintended pregnancies.

What gets me most is how the prevalent idea is that the worst thing a teen girl can possibly do is get pregnant. It's like that scene in Juno:

Mac (Juno's dad): Did you see that coming?
Bren (Juno's step mom): Yeah... but I was hoping she was expelled, or into hard drugs.
Mac: That was my first instinct too. Or a DWI... anything but this!
Now, far be it from me to promote the idea that teen parenting isn't difficult. It is. It's extremely difficult and can often prevent the moms from finishing their educations, perpetuates cycles of poverty, and puts the children at risk for all sorts of challenges.

But at the end of the day, teen parents are not the biggest evil our society faces. So long as hatred and violence still run rampant, we've got bigger fish to fry. Besides spend a few minutes with some of the pregnant and parenting girls I work with, and let them tell you first hand if they see their futures as dead ends.

When it comes down to it, I have and will continue to advocate for ways to prevent teen pregnancy. But I've also come to understand that shaming and condemning teen parents is not the solution either. I've been thinking about writing this for a while. Then today Feministing shared this video and I thought, how appropriate?

Oh, and on a totally unrelated note, this is my 100th blog post! AWWWWW YEEEEEAH!

*I say "high risk" because I think the term "at risk" is a misnomer. Every girl is at risk for certain things...eating disorders, drug abuse, pregnancy. However, some girls are more at risk than others, hence, high risk.

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