Friday, June 27, 2008

Teen pregnancy is news?

So now the teen moms in Gloucester say there WASN'T a pact to get pregnant and then raise their children together. Instead, they say that some of them were ALREADY pregnant at the same time, and they just decided to help and support each other. Which is very nice.

Either way, the larger issues are being ignored. These are:

1. Teen pregnancy isn't new, nor is it NEWS. It's been around for a while. And it's not going away any time soon. So why the sudden interest in it?

2. Question: Why all the focus on on a sudden increase in teen pregnancy in a small community on the North Shore of Boston? Answer: because most of these kids are white. Believe me, increases in teen pregnancy among young women of color in the City of Boston cause no such media frenzy. But 17 white girls in a Boston suburb get pregnant? It's national news.

For example, according to State public health statistics, in 2005, there were 566 births to teen moms in the City of Boston, and 435 in Springfield. I would bet that a high percentage of these were to young women of color. But no one is saying anything in the news about that.

There are 3 articles in today's Globe alone about this issue.
The real 'mommy pact' outrage by Ellen Goodman
A Globe editorial
and a news article

Ellen Goodman does a great job of laying out all the issues. How everyone is pointing their finger at everyone else, and no one is talking to the teens about the facts. Which leads us to issue #3:

3. If teen pregnancy was a problem easily solved, it would have been solved years ago. It's not. Getting people to change behavior is DIFFICULT. This is what I do in my work, and even the people who know what they are doing, often don't know what they are doing. Behaviors like eating, exercising (or not) and sex are almost impossible to impact unless the individual is very motivated, or if the environment REALLY supports the change.

I guess this is an important conversation to have, so we might as well have it now. But I can't help but think that somehow, right now, this has to do more with fashion than with reality.

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