Preventable Calamity: How to Reduce Teenage Pregnancy

By Sylvester, Kathleen | USA TODAY, March 1997 | Go to article overview

Preventable Calamity: How to Reduce Teenage Pregnancy


Sylvester, Kathleen, USA TODAY


All across America, young girls who still are children themselves are bearing children of their own. It is a calamity for these young mothers, because early motherhood denies them opportunities and choices; for their offspring, because most will grow up poor and without a father; and for the nation, because these youngsters are likely to repeat the tragic cycle of poverty and dysfunction into which they were born. However, it is a calamity that is preventable.

Compelling evidence now supports what most Americans long have understood intuitively. Family structure and lifestyle, as well as economics, influence how children turn out. Those of young, unmarried mothers fare badly, and society pays the cost. The equation is straightforward: As poverty is the most accurate predictor of teen pregnancy, teen pregnancy is a near certain predictor of poverty. Two-thirds of never married mothers raise their kids in poverty.

Children of unmarried teen mothers are far more likely than those of older, two parent families to fall behind and drop out of school, get into trouble with the law, abuse drugs and join gangs, have children of their own out of wedlock, and become dependent on welfare.

The situation is urgent. There are over 9,000,000 youngsters living in welfare families. As they reach adolescence, many are "scripted" to repeat the lives of their parents. It is vital to intervene and break the cycle before those children, too, become parents too soon and create a new generation of disadvantage.

To reverse this cycle requires a categorical declaration by civic, moral, and community leaders that it is wrong--not simply foolish or impractical--for women and men to make babies they can not support emotionally and financially. It also is time to challenge the complacent view that having babies out of wedlock is simply a lifestyle choice, and that since all such preferences are equally valid, no behavior should be condemned. This stance is untenable in the face of compelling evidence that not all choices are equal in terms of their impact on youngsters, and that children need fathers as well as mothers.

Massive Federal spending on remedial programs is not the solution; neither is castigating teen mothers, cutting off their welfare checks, and moving their offspring into orphanages. Government's role is not to insulate individuals from the consequences of their behavior or from the values of their communities.

Nothing short of a sustained national campaign can reverse the trend that has allowed teen pregnancy and early childbearing to become a crisis. Government can play a limited, but critical role in such a campaign.

Pres. Clinton must begin a national conversation about unmarried teenage pregnancy by declaring unequivocally that it is morally wrong because children are endangered. Parents, communities. schools, and churches must join the President and affirm a point on which most Americans agree- unmarried teenagers should not be having kids. The goal of this national campaign should be ambitious: reducing the pregnancy rate of 117 per 1,000 teens by five percent a year over the next decade.

Government merely is a catalyst. The real capacity to reverse the trend in teenage pregnancy rests with communities. The President should challenge them to set their own goals for reducing teen pregnancy and let each devise its own strategies. If Federal funds are offered, they should be matched by private-sector contributions and in-kind contributions from communities.

The President must challenge the media to join the campaign. This is not a call for censorship; it is a call for truth-telling. In American culture, children and teenagers learn from music and television as well as from parents, schools, and churches. Yet, teenagers are less able than adults to differentiate their own lives from the fantasies portrayed on television. MTV and soap operas depict rich and beautiful characters who indulge in endless sexual encounters, usually without adverse consequences. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Preventable Calamity: How to Reduce Teenage Pregnancy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.