I have at least 3-6 every semester. Their cheeks are round and their bellies rounder. They are bursting with excitement, anticipation and fear. They are young, they are pregnant and they are single. Teen pregnancy has never completely receded into the shadows but recently has been pushed back into the forefront of social consciousness.
Our culture is at odds with itself. On one hand we see single celebrity moms like Natalie Portman in the news with nobody pointing a finger and then BYU kicks out their star basketball player as a result of getting his girlfriend pregnant. We watch Teen Mom on MTV but then pull funding for sex education in our public schools. We morally disagree with it and yet feel the need to support these girls all at the same time. Let me make something clear; it is a problem.
From an educator and as a mother and as a woman it is a travesty. It isn’t horrible because these girls are bad. No, absolutely not, these girls are beautiful people burgeoning with opportunity. It is a travesty because our society and our culture has done nothing to truly solve the problem except excel at moral outrage and moral outrage is not going to fix the problem.
In order for these girls to accept the fact that what they are doing is morally wrong means they must first pass judgment on their own mothers – who also were young single mothers, or possibly their grandmothers. You cannot expect them to do that.
We also cannot fund them into parenthood, which means paying for their tutors, their schooling, their day care, their housing is not going to force them to succeed or even necessarily help them to succeed. No, as Gerry Garibaldi pointed out in an article this week in the Dallas News, money is not going to solve the problem. Preventing them from getting pregnant is the solution. Teach abstinence? Yep. Teach birth control? Yep. Teach boys about their social responsibility and obligation? Yep. Teach about the consequences financially and emotionally of being a teen mom? Yep. We need to stop wagging fingers and start solving the problem.
These beautiful young women that come into my classroom are the lucky ones. They somehow figured out how to get out of high school and into a community college, but of those that get there many will drop out. It is difficult and nearly impossible to juggle baby, work, and school all while having the maturity of a 19 year old. A 19 year old who still hasn’t mastered the basics of time management.
The time for moral outrage is gone – the time for teaching these young people the cold, hard truth about their decisions has arrived.