03/31/11 — Teen shame: Acceptance is kind, but could 'stigma' cut teen pregnancy rate?

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Teen shame: Acceptance is kind, but could 'stigma' cut teen pregnancy rate?

It used to be that getting pregnant at the age of 16, 17 or younger was not something you wanted to broadcast. In fact, you were lucky if you got to stay in school.

Contrast that with today -- when there is a television show about teen moms and they are in the tabloids all the time for their antics.

Makes you wonder if, perhaps, it has become too cool to have a baby.

There are a lot of factors that go into a teenage pregnancy -- early sexual activity, miseducation about consequences, poor role models, peer pressure, bad home lives and low self-esteem. Pinpointing any one cause would be almost impossible.

But what is different today from what it was decades ago is that there is little shame involved in telling your friends that you are going to have a baby. Sure, there might be some stress -- and the idea of giving up your teenage years for motherhood cannot be a fun -- but when it comes down to peer acceptance, there just isn't enough stigma anymore.

Blame it on whatever you like -- the new media age, changing values or simply a generation of young people who do not understand that actions have logical and specific consequences. The bottom line is, there are too many children who see nothing wrong with having children.

So what do we do to lower our teen pregnancy rate and to make teens think before engaging in risky behavior? Maybe a little stigma might not be such a bad thing. It is something to think about anyway.

Published in Editorials on March 31, 2011 10:50 AM