With all the hoopla surrounding celebrity minors who get pregnant – out of wedlock – everyone seems to forget or ignore the price that their children pay. Obviously, a Jamie-Lynn Spears or a Bristol Palin has a source of financial and family support, but that situation is the exception and not the rule. Glorifying teen motherhood and supporting it (think of John McCain with Bristol Palin’s “baby daddy” in a photo-op, for goodness sakes) does a gross disservice to the realities of the situations.
Babies need adult parents – a Mom and Dad, who are (preferably) married. Or are babies just accessories to be called “cute,” and then passed on to the hired help?
A recent study by the Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy pegs the annual cost to taxpayers at almost $10 billion per year. Spread that wealth! Less than 40% of teen mothers earn a high school diploma, and their children are far, far more likely to go into foster care and eventually end up in prison than children born to even slightly older mothers, writes University of Delaware economist Saul Hoffman in Kids Having Kids: Economic Costs and Social Consequences of Teen Pregnancy.
Linda Lausell Bryant, the Executive Director of Inwood House, a New York non-profit that assists teen mothers is frustrated by the racial issues involved. The vast majority of girls are black or Hispanic. “It’s a double standard. If you’re a poor kid of color, it’s a bad thing. If you’re affluent and white, it’s not so bad.”
She explained to the Associated Press that many of the girls served by Inwood House had already dropped out of high school before they got pregnant, and saw motherhood as a chance to add meaning to their lives, which may have been punctuated with abuse, abandonment and/or chaotic homes. “It is a dream,” she says, “of raising a child the way they wish they’d been raised – being the kind of mother they never had. That’s the fantasy – it’s very powerful.”
Our celebration of teen pregnancies leads young girls in the wrong direction: increasing poverty, despair, child abuse, abandonment, and even infanticide. Why am I one of the only voices in the media stating that what Bristol and Jamie-Lynn did was wrong?