June 28, 2012

Teenage Moms.


              These kids are one thing that has been bugging me from the time I started to travel by light rail in Sacramento. Well, there are many other things that bug me, let's not get into them now. It was in the summer of 2007, when I first saw one. You might be wondering why I am so specific at their sight. I was shocked.
That girl was so young. She would be around 16. And the baby in her arms could be few days old. So, why do you care? They are plenty of them all over the place. Yes, I think I do. Because I am manufactured with this chip called worry. She had the baby in one hand, the car seat in another and a guy who would be less than 20 accompanying her. I know it’s not manners (people call it a ‘rude thing’ here) to stare at them, but I couldn’t help to take my eyes off.
A feeling passed through me, which I can never explain. We relocated after that and I am back on the light rails for the past 2 yrs. I see these teenage moms again and again and the same feeling passes each time. 
My mom was a teenage mom too. I was born when she was barely 15. Most of our grandmothers were married around 10-15 yrs of age. Back then, it was a cultural stigma in our society. And I think it’s a stupid comparison too. This happened in a country like India 50 years back. And we are talking about the situation in a developed country like U.S 50 yrs later.
U.S is not an underdeveloped or a developing nation. In a way, it rules the world. Where is all the development and awareness taking them?
It’s common across the globe for teenagers to have a crush. But, there’s a limit to where the crush leads. I hear about the importance of sex education everywhere. I wonder if the students understand that they have to do the practicals to understand the subject better. And the students don’t realize they have failed their exam when they get pregnant.
After some research on the internet and talking to many friends at work, the reasons go like this:
Lack of education on safe sex
Sexual abuse by older men
Peer pressure etc. etc. etc
Majority of these kids are from the African/American and Hispanic communities. Why only them? Lack of proper family system, below standard of living levels, no value for education, free sex, lack of proper communication about sex to the kids?
A small common example: A teenage girl gets pregnant, she says her boyfriend is going to marry her and she has the baby. Now, the boyfriend is having another baby with a different girl. Why don’t they sterilize all these boys in a row?
If she gets pregnant, god, the last thing she could do is abort. Now, there might be readers who might get insanely mad at me for that word. What do you expect from a kid of 16? To study well, get good grades, plan for college, spend on nails and cute outfits or live on food stamps working double shifts trying to meet both ends? Being the mother of two and having two decent incomes flowing, I know what it is like to raise kids. I seriously don’t understand how a girl who hasn’t even completed her high school could raise a baby?  
          On talking to some friends, what I learnt is they get free college, free day care for their kids, the rent is very nominal (e.g. $20 a month). They live on welfare. I strongly feel the govt./system instead of educating them on the benefits or safe sex, should rather educated them on the harsh reality if they get pregnant. And there should be an age limit set to become a mother. And if the benefits are cut to some extent, I believe they realise how it effetcs. I am not saying this out of the resentment as a tax payer. I am saying it with the throbbing heart of a human being. What annoyed me even more is, girls who are not pregnant don’t get free college education. So, go get pregnant and the govt will send you to school for free. Ugh!!!

23 comments:

  1. Teenage pregnancy is a huge thing in US, Latha (and I found your name!)and the issue is very complex. Yes, it is many of the issues you have related and some more. For e.g. with African American popln, the history of slavery has broken the backbone of relationships when women never knew with whom they would, men never knew which plantation they would be at, children were always of single moms...it is different.
    With Hispanic popln--the history of machoism has affected the women leading them to need to be a consort. Now in general--most of these girls long for love which they dont get at home--that if often the reason why they r willing to conceive. Finally, teenage moms get free schooling in select schools but often they dont get childcare services. I have met women in such schools--I have seen their pain, their distress and their confusion. Please do not say take away welfare--they already get very little sympathy and very little help. Instead, the culture needs to be changed slowly and it is changing...:)

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    1. I totally understand and agree with you Bhavana. Even after publishing the post, I was not completely happy with it. I kept thinking about many things I felt I should have edited. You having worked with diff. groups have more experience than any of us. Instead of educating these girls on the benefits of safe sex, the govt./system should rather teach them lessons in school on the harsh reality if they get pregnant. Many people from these communities I have spoken to, just said, that cycle is never going to change. And I really wish it does. Btw, there's no ambiguity on my name. :) When I first started blogging, I was not sure if I would continue this long. So, I was not sure if I will go with my real name or not. Anyway, now that you know, that's not complete name either. Will write a post on it itself..:)

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  2. HI

    Sensitive topic! I have seen a series on MTV on such kids who get pregnant in their teens...First it may not be right to punish them as its a very wierd kind of neither-child-nor-adult stage. I have seen in some movies that they can give the child for adoption by childless couples. Is it feasible?

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    1. Yes, it is Jaishree. Why I felt, the benefits need to be cut is, then may be only a generation suffers. But, the rest of them will have the fear of not getting any help from the govt. Ya,they can give kids for adoption. Many people do and many don't. I know it's a highly sensitive topic and that is entirely my personal opinion.

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  3. And to add to it, I am not sure about their parenting skills. The child would go through a lot of suffering while growing up with lack of proper family, lack of proper ethical values and this in turn is a major issue. As you mentioned, the cycle goes on. Serious steps should be taken. Its my personal opinion.

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    1. True. Their upbringing, life style adds a major role to it.

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  4. It is a scary situation for a teen to be a parent. I mean, we feel so challenged with parenthood when we are older, so imagine!

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    1. Right. I donno how they plan to raise a kid. And the kid in turn becomes another teen parent due to lack of love and other factors.

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  5. well...i read somewhere that "approximately 1 million teenage girls become pregnant each year in the United States which is about 13% of total births that takes place in US and what sirprised me tha it further says "about 25% of these teenage mothers have another baby within 2 years.....

    Anyways i personally feel that to lower teenaged pregnancy rates children must be educated about sex and sexuality and about the consequences of pregnancy at their stage of life.......

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    1. Yes. The numbers are scary. That's the reason I did not even mention about the statistics. They need to be educated about the consequences and miseries of becoming a teenage mom along with the sexual education.

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  6. if they don't get proper guidance then these things are bound to happen. this is an impressionable age and they don't know how much they have to suffer throughout their lives for few wrong decisions.

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    1. Yes Deb. The age is like that and they don't have right decision making capabilities and cannot draw the line between wrong and right. Though these kids see many such people around them, they do the same mistake again.

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  7. This is what happens with too much freedom, I just cant fathom why they cant practice safe sex..

    I can confidently say that even if they marry, such marriages will nevr be forever..

    everything has its own time and place, why hurry to have evrything..enjoy the teenage with education..

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    1. You are right. Too much freedom. And most of these kids are promised that they will be married and not even before the baby is born, the boy friends start sleeping with others. More and more education and brain washing needs to be done.

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    2. more and more I think and I feel that our culture is far better with all the restrictions, only some people have made it look bad.

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  8. Scary but like here in uk it is on the raise .. I dont have any answrs as to why or what .. But it is happening and it is alarming ..

    dont know what to say

    Bikram's

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    1. Though you don't know what to say, thank u for taking time to read. I know what you meant. Even while writing it, after writing it, I am still wondering why did I even write about it?

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  9. Even I have seen that and you are right they belong to those races mostly Hispanic in my city. I think they are misusing the govt aids. But this is scary to me. I mean how can you possibly raise a child at that age.

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    1. I don't know if it is misusing govt. Once they have a child, there's no point in looking back. If they get guidance at least in that stage as on how to manage their life and utilise the resources provided by the govt. may be their lives will improve a bit.

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  10. Nice analysis of the problem.
    The parents have a role.They can guide the kids to abort within 60 days with so many safe pills available.I hope there is no law against it.Abortion within a certain age limit with doctors permission can be legal and the victim/culprit warned
    As you have rightly pointed out,the government's doles should not encourage teen age motherhoods.Instead the fear of punishment should be instilled.

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    1. KP sir, thank you. After re-reading the post many times, I felt I should have done a more in depth study of the problem. Yesterday, I happened to meet a lady who works with teen moms. She told me that, though these kids are explained, taught the risks of teen pregnancies, the message do not enter them. And most of these kids are sexually abused at home which is even more worse.

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  11. It all goes down to the way one is brought up , the values, morals , exposure and knowing the right information at the right time. Awareness will definitely go a long way in preventing the case of these teenage moms.

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    1. You are right Ashwini. Lots and lots of awareness. I met a person who works with them, she told me that the message doesn't get into them, so it's very hard to make the realise the reality.

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