Slow the Suffering and Growth of Grinding Poverty in the US


If the teen pregnancy rate were reduced, “at-risk” teen girls who would have gotten pregnant and given birth would have greater opportunity to graduate from high school, attend college and have career opportunities that provide enrichment and happiness. Reducing the frequency of teen pregnancy would solve insurmountable challenges for many families. These families could lift themselves out of poverty without the additional burden of a newborn infant. Babies would not arrive in a world that is unable to properly care for them. Parenthood would come later when the birth mother is emotionally and financially prepared. Families of teen parents would not be stretched past their limits because the needs of a newborn child is past their capabilities physically, and financially. Family members of teen parents including siblings commonly experience setbacks in positive development.

The first exercise in reducing teen pregnancy would be a concerted effort in all public schools, nationwide, (but more in regions where teen pregnancy is more predominant) to give children as young as 9 and 10 years old age appropriate curriculum in sex education. If there is a backlash, it must be tempered. The risk is too great for our young women and the infants they give birth to. Campaigns to sway public opinion about the importance of this issue would be everywhere. Once a child enters middle school, the education increases. This education is equally critical for boys, an important factor in teen pregnancy. The abortion issue should stay out of the schools because of its controversy. All other sensitive issues about sex, pregnancy and transmitted diseases would be covered as an important part of the curriculum in public schools. The best campaign managers, advertising experts, medical professionals, social workers, and educators would participate in this campaign and in the structure of the curriculum. The mission of this team would be to teach youth the perils of teen pregnancy and to persuade them that they do not want to parent a child too young. It could work as it worked in the anti-smoking campaigns.

The goal of the campaign would be to inform teens adequately in order to make informed decisions about their own behavior. This is not currently the situation. Today, in many schools, only abstinence is presented. This keeps scientific information away from youth who need to be making informed decisions. Abstinence is not something that can be effectively taught in the schools. Teens that are already sexually active laugh at abstinence classes. A complete curriculum would give sexually active teens an opportunity to protect themselves. Abstinence is a matter for churches. It is critical to start this educational program early enough in a youth’s life to come prior to emerging sexual activity which is ages 13 to 15.

Reducing teen pregnancy could ease poverty in less than two years. In five years, as the campaign starts to take effect on a longer term, it would dramatically reduce poverty. Fewer babies would be born into a life of neglect and suffering. Reduced stress on social services would follow. Extended family members would be healthier by experiencing a lower stress, higher quality life. The teens who escaped pregnancy would be entering society as adults; the ratio of educated working young people to high risk, marginalized young adults would begin to change. As more young adults experience financial security and opportunity, existing alienated young adults would receive more assistance, and optimally be influenced by their successful peers.


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Comments 14 comments

junko profile image

junko 5 years ago

That's noble thoughts Anne. Your Ideas could really help if seriously implimented.It would have be a goverment funded effort. That won't happen because they say we are going broke. No social programs will be mandated or funded before or maybe not after the election of 2012. You are thinking how to solve a problem, and our law makers in Washington are thinking about how to cause a problem. vote up


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

Good ideas Anne, however in the Uk teen pregnancy is viewed as a way out, teens get their own accomodation and money and dont have to work til the child is 11- not saying that is wrong as kids deserve to have as much as possible, but many i am sure look at it as a way to get their independance without a job- Mind you i think that working is less strenuous than having a job


THAT Mary Ann 5 years ago

As former head of Planned Parenthood of RI I applaud this hub and thank you for it. America has a real problem with teen pregnancy and it was being brought under control until the fanatical political hoohas got these crazy ideas about responsible sex education. Parents too are to blame. They need to teach their children about these things. The best sex Ed should take place at home...but often doesn't. Thanks for this.


Anne Pettit profile image

Anne Pettit 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

My dear Junko, We cannot fade into the woodwork. This is too importand. It seems as if we cannot be heard, but read the other comments. We are not alone. Our kids need us to speak out.


Anne Pettit profile image

Anne Pettit 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Caseworker, I enjoy your comments, lets you, me, and ThatMaryAnn go to lunch and come up with a plan. I do agree that the UK has a more generous welfare reimbursement program, but I do not believe teens think it through that much. Welfare is still welfare, poor is poor, and teens are the most responsive consumers. It is entirely reasonable that teens can be guided and encouraged to healthy decisions. We are not doing it right.


Anne Pettit profile image

Anne Pettit 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Dear That, Thank you for your service with Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides a service to the public that is unmet by any other agency. The Christian right is running this country and we must be heard and do what we can whenever there is an opportunity. There is much despair and suffering that is unnecessary and things can be done. This issue is about education.


SUSIE DUZY profile image

SUSIE DUZY 5 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

The times are dire. There are so many who need help and those that have so much are trying to change laws so that they do noth have to help.


Anne Pettit profile image

Anne Pettit 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

It doesnt make any sense. If people are more successful and healthy, it doesn't cost as much money. I think it is good that we are speaking up.


David 5 years ago

Having a child as a young teenager is a ticket to a lifetime of welfare. When a young woman has no hopes, no dreams, no goals, no determination or work ethic, welfare is my only viable alternative (and not a bad one at that). The US has made it mighty attractive and rewarding to go on welfare. So much so that the young women usually has several more illegitimate children. I can understand making (1) mistake but the US makes it advantageous & rewarding by giving them more money each month heretofore the incentive is to have more illegitimate children. I cannot believe in this day & age, a young women or man would be so naive as to have an "accident". This “accident” or illegitimate child is usually planned and the father nor mother takes no responsibility nor does suffer the consequences for their behaviors and in fact are “financially” rewarded. Take financial incentives & rewards out of the equation and the illegitimate birth rate would promptly decline.

Throwing more money or government programs is not the answer. We -the taxpayer- have already done that.


RunAbstract profile image

RunAbstract 5 years ago from USA

You have made some very valid points with this article! I would also like to see more morals taught that would help teens make better choices. But since that would have to begin in the home... what to do?

Thank you for sharing your ideas and ideals!


feenix profile image

feenix 5 years ago

Hello, Anne Pettit,

This is a very thoughtful hub that provides a number of constructive insights.

And the high rate of teen pregnancy certainly is at the root of many of our nation's social and economic ills.

I believe that to effectively address the problem, one of the first things we must do is think back to what caused the problem to occur in the first place.


Anne Pettit profile image

Anne Pettit 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

I agree that we need to explore what caused the problem in the first place, on both a societal level and an individual level. Some of the things I mentioned are very obvious, but very difficult to counter. Thanks for your comment. Nice to see you again! Anne


Cmbeverly profile image

Cmbeverly 4 years ago from Delaware, OH

My mother has worked in labor and delivery ever since she came to America from Germany. She works in South East Washington D.C. and would vent her frustrations of seeing 11 and 12 year old mothers giving birth. All of them were poor and all of them had broken homes and zero support from extended family. I grew up in The D.C. Maryland region and I witnessed my peers get pregnant drop out of school, enter the "system" and hate it while unable to claw their way out. Anne you are the type of person citizens of this country need to pay attention to! My personal thoughts from stemming from all that I witnessed is that kids who have very little fulfillment in life whether financial or family will do anything that makes them feel good. Having a child at an early age is a byproduct of nothing else to do in my opinion. How do you teach a child who feels like they aren't worth anything to not seek solace in physical pleasure? In my opinion therapy and counseling should be added to the teen mothers repertoire during pregnancy. Fix the mind and the body will follow.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

A baby only buys a woman 2 years at home so she must keep having them, I just can't understand that mentality. At one time I would have disagreed with giving 10 year olds birth control information but since ten year olds are having sex now I guess I change my mind. So sad. I think it is all lack of morals and family. Great write. I am from NC, too, great to meet you.

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