Yesterday I got the privilege of meeting baby Hailey. Baby Hailey was born over the weekend to a friend of my daughter. Mom, my daughter’s friend, is 16.
A lot of attention has been devoted to 16 year old’s getting pregnant since Jaime Lynn Spears and Bristol Palin announced their pregnancies, and pending marriages to the father of their babies.
I am not going to say whether is was right or wrong for any of these girls to get pregnant or have sex in the first place, as it is not my business and the entire premise of their situation is a lot bigger than just getting pregnant.
What I will say is that teen pregnancy is a reality and it is often side stepped by institutions who would rather not go there for their own reasons. For example, the school district that sidestepped the sex ed information that my daughter’s friend never got.
Over this past weekend, my local news paper ran a story about teen pregnancy. To the amazement of many, I am sure, they reported that nearly half the babies born in my area are to single women.
They asked the three largest hospitals in the area to keep track of their births in the month March of this year. They found that 47 percent of the women who gave birth were unmarried. Most were white, aged 15 to 39. Public aid paid for most of the births to unwed moms.
Statistics show the majority of single mothers are in – or teetering on the brink of – poverty, according to the paper.
Some lack prenatal care and adequate homes. Their children are at risk of health problems, not being successful in school and dropping out. Though some women survive and even succeed, many struggle with lack of child support, can’t find good jobs and scrape to meet the needs of their children.
Pregnant teens and teen mothers are challenged with continuing their educations. State programs help them with getting formula and food; others help them to at least get GEDs so they have a chance for better-paying jobs in the future.
According to the CDC, since 1990, pregnancy rates had declined substantially for teenagers aged 15–17 years. From 1990 to 2000, the pregnancy rate decreased 33%, from 80.3 per 1,000 females to 53.5, a record low. The birth rate declined 42%, from its peak at 38.6 in 1991 to 22.4 in 2003. The induced abortion rate peaked in 1983 at 30.7 and decreased by more than half to 14.5 by 2000. However, something happened in 2006. For the first time since 1991, unmarried childbearing also rose significantly.
In a report released by the CDC last December, between 2005 and 2006, the birth rate for teenagers 15-19 years rose 3 percent, from 40.5 live births per 1,000 females aged 15-19 years in 2005 to 41.9 births per 1,000 in 2006. This follows a 14-year downward trend in which the teen birth rate fell by 34 percent from its recent peak of 61.8 births per 1,000 in 1991.
The study also shows unmarried childbearing reached a new record high in 2006. The total number of births to unmarried mothers rose nearly 8 percent to 1,641,700 in 2006. This represents a 20 percent increase from 2002, when the recent upswing in nonmarital births began. The biggest jump was among unmarried women aged 25-29, among whom there was a 10 percent increase between 2005 and 2006.
The study revealed that the percentage of all U.S. births to unmarried mothers increased to 38.5 percent, up from 36.9 percent in 2005.
Teen pregnancy happens. The reasons why kids have sex are complex. The reasons why they aren’t educated correctly on the precautions and consequences are debatable. The outcome however, can be a serious disease or a human life.
Today my daughter went to school with an envelope to collect money. Baby Hailey’s mom cannot afford to buy a stroller. My daughter is asking everyone she knows to donate a dollar to help Hailey’s mom buy a stroller. Whether or not they knew or even liked Hailey’s mom has nothing to do with the fact that their is a beautiful baby that needs their help.
Count your blessings.