"Growing up is never easy. You hold on to thing that were. You wonder what's to come. But that night, I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to waht would be. Other days. New days. Days to come. The thing is, we didn't hate each other for getting older. We just had to forgive ourselves... for growing up." - The Wonder Years.
I've been home sick for the past couple of days. And you know what that means. Bad T.V. And lots of it. Fortunately, my tivo was pretty full since my schedule had been full for the last couple of weeks so I was doing ok in between my fever induced naps. Then I stumbled upon a marathon of "16 and Pregnant" on MTV. And I was fascinated.
Captivated. It's like watching a train wreck. The fear, the 'plans', the immaturity, the idealism, the realities, the concessions, the heartbreak.
I was amazed. All of it blew me away. Several of the girls were hardworking and goal oriented acheivers who lives would be forever changed. One of them transfered to an accelerated school so she would graduate before the baby came and then started college the next semester, all while working and taking care of the child (and without much help from the father of her child).
The other thing that I saw coming but was touched by the innocent heartbreak of each of the young mothers: the unfortunate but inevitable moment when the "father" would let the girl down. He'd be late to pick up the baby, choose to leave her and the child at home while he went out with friends, keep her from graduating so that he could, etc. You could see it happening and each episode had the girl saying, in some form or another, "He doesn't want to grow up... I didn't want/wasn't ready to either... but I didn't have a choice".
My mom has always told my sisters and I that it's a double standard, that girls pay more for an accidental pregnancy, how guys are always allowed the option of walking away. But this show, this MTV documentary shows it in a way that undeniable.
If I was a teacher or a health worker or somehow involved with middle school children, I would require them to watch this, early high schoolers too. In my county, and I believe in the state, our health/sex education doesn't teach anything but abstinence. They give less information about birth control and contraceptives than they did when I went through in 1992. And yet, the law makers and leaders of our state complain about the pregnancy rates and the cycles of generations of dependency upon welfare. Without getting on my soapbox, surely you can make the connection? Education + Information + Accessability = Protected Sexually Active Teenagers = Less Pregnant Teenagers.
On one of the shows, a counselor pulls in other teen moms to speak to one of the pregnant girls, about how childcare, school, making it work, etc. And her comment after the session, "this was supposed to make me feel better".
At that school alone, there were 10 other teenage mothers who showed up to the session... out of how many invited? How many had dropped out and couldn't be found by the counselor? Out of how many who had abortions? Out of how many who lost their babies through miscarriage? Out of how many who accidentially became pregnant? Out of how many who are having sex and haven't gotten caught?
Because that's the only thing seperating the girls who are pregnant and those who aren't... who has gotten 'caught'.