I wished somebody had taught me about my body, about healthy sexuality, when I was young and made sure I knew what to do in order not to get pregnant” Cherisse Scott
Like Ellen Goodman, in the article What happened to old-fashioned contraception? I have NEVER watched any of the baby making films “Juno”, Knocked Up”, “Waitress”, or “Bella”. In “Knocked Up”, pregnancy from a one-night drunken stand transforms a slacker baby daddy into a grown-up. In “Waitress”, pregnancy empowers a woman to escape from Husband Wrong to Mr. Right, and in “Bella”, it’s the belly that leads her into the heart of a warm Latino family.
My thoughts- would a girl of color or one who lives below the poverty line have these same opportunities? Growing up in the inner-city below the poverty line, I felt that those who had sex had one clear mission- finding somebody permanent to love them. I truly had no parental direction, due to two biological parents who were substance abusers. My self proclaimed mission was clear: “Keep your dress down and your legs closed. Climb out of poverty and only to go back to lift others out.” The struggle of being a teenager mother seemed all too real. I watched my peers living on welfare or working part-time (labor laws prevent many from working full -time) minimum wage jobs. I wanted to grow up and be the honest real voice that could help young girls and boys. Perhaps that is what deeply inspired me to become a clinical social worker, so that I could be a neutral voice of reason and help dispel the glamorized world of teen pregnancy. Since the truth of the struggle is:
- Health Issues: Pregnant teens are more likely to suffer complications during pregnancy, resulting in more premature births, low birth weight, or other serious health problems. These issues put babies at a greater risk of suffering newborn health problems, disability, or death.
- Education: According to StayTeen.org, more than half of teen mothers never graduate from high school, and fewer than two percent have graduated from college by the time they’re 30.
- Economic Issues: Lack of education makes it more difficult for teen mothers to find and keep well-paying jobs. According to the March of Dimes, more than 75 percent of unmarried teen mothers go on welfare within five years of having their first baby.
- Depression: According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, depression is common among pregnant teens. Teen parents may feel guilty or anxious about the future. Teen parents are also more likely to subject their children to abuse and neglect because they feel overwhelmed by their unfamiliar, ever-demanding roles as parents.
In sharing these facts, I want to be clear I also do not believe in abstinence education courses. I believe in meeting clients where they are at, allowing for them to make their own informed decisions about their lives and their choices. My job as a clinical social worker is clearly to listen, present them with the facts, and inform them of where they can receive free and or reduced access to contraception or abortion, and how life will honestly look as a teenage single mother. Beyond Hollywood.