It’s a social phenomenon that’s been occurring since the beginning of time, and now three-quarters of a million pregnant teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 reside in America today. These teenagers are living and dealing with the consequences that their actions have caused, and having to make decisions that only adults should face. There are very few teenagers who plan on becoming mothers. In fact, 82 percent of teen pregnancies are unintended. On an annual scale, teenage pregnancies account for 20 percent of all unintended births. Teenagers who are sexually active never really comprehend the aftermath that could occur if even one minor accident were to happen. They never think they will have to provide for their own family until reality hits, and they’re that teenager walking down the hallways of their school…pregnant.
Rates of teen pregnancy declined between 1991 and 2002, but are slowly on the rise again. Even though there was a 36 percent decrease between the years of 1991 and 2002, rates began to slowly escalate again soon after, with a 3 percent inclination between 2002 and 2005. Since 2005, the percentages have continued to climb. Georgia alone has 95,000 teenage girls who are pregnant today.
“It’s just babies having babies!” says one faculty member, who wishes to remain anonymous. In a sense, this statement can be seen as accurate. Having a child, no matter what age, is a challenge within itself. Mixing a teenager’s youth with responsibilities that are hard for even a stable adult to handle, can put too much stress on the young, undeveloped mind. Physical and mental exhaustion play a huge role in teenage moms coping with their pregnancies. In order to maintain social balance, teenage moms need the little things to keep them sane. Simple activities, like spending the night with friends on a Friday night, or a lunch date with close family members are no longer taken for granted. A pregnancy means giving up a lot more than most people foresee. Teenage pregnancy can mean leaving your youth behind and growing more independent than the rest of your classmates and peers in a very short time.
For some teens this bump in the road of life actually helps them realize they need to grow up and change their lifestyle. It means no more parties, and learning how to better manage time and money. Education is another important factor in helping a young family survive. If a teen mom stays in school and keeps up with all class work, the family is more likely to prosper.
“Quitting school does not solve anything,” suggests a Woodland administrator. Sixty percent of all pregnant teens end up dropping out of high school, while the other 40 percent stay in school and make a good living for their families.
“Never give up on education just because your life has changed,” mentions an early childhood development teacher at WHS.
Education is a vital ingredient to develop a strong, healthy family, and is a key to getting through crucial times in life.
“I go to school, go straight home to take care of my baby, squeeze in my homework, go to bed extremely late, then wake up and repeat it all the next day,” said a teen mom about the reality she goes through each day. “I was forced to mature and become independent much sooner than I had ever imagined. I can’t go out every night like all my friends, and the worst part is the dad, who I thought I trusted, can’t even man up and help support us. I’m stuck alone with my baby the majority of the time, with no help and no one to get me through my hardships.”
Another expecting young mom fights the same battles and must overcome similar situations. “I’m worn out, nauseous, and my feet constantly kill me. It’s very hard for me to focus and stay awake in class, and my grades are already beginning to suffer," she said. "My child is not even here yet and I’ve already had to give up most of my free time and sacrifice my social life. My maturity level has increased because I want to be a good role model for my child and give off the image that I am a good mom. Some of my peers at school can be harsh with name calling and staring, but I have learned to overcome it, because in the end I know that my kid is the only thing that matters now.”
The best advice to be given is to practice abstinence. Teenagers often seek love in all the wrong places, and they do not realize what can occur if one mishap were to take place. There is no bigger commitment than to take on the role of a parent at such an early age. Always keep in mind that finishing an education will be a more successful path for any teen, pregnant or not, in the long run. Take each mistake in life as a lesson learned. Listen to the advice from these teens and stay strong through whatever situations you are placed in. Think for the future and not just for the moment.