When Children Have Children
“HE SEEMED like something out of a fairy tale,” a young woman we will call Sharon recalls bitterly. “He used to tell me all the time that he loved me and that if a girlfriend of his ever got pregnant, he would never leave her.”
One day Sharon visited her doctor to check out what she thought was appendicitis; it turned out that she was three months pregnant. “I called my boyfriend immediately,” Sharon recalls. His reaction? “You have to get an abortion! Just get rid of it!” The fairy tale had become a nightmare.
Nearly one million teenage girls in the United States alone become pregnant each year. The United States has the dubious distinction of having the highest teen pregnancy rate among industrialized lands—the only land where the rate has increased in recent years. However, a 37-country study done by The Alan Guttmacher Institute reveals that pregnancy among unwed teenagers is a global problem.
Wrote researchers Black and DeBlassie in the journal Adolescence: “School-age girls who become pregnant come from all socioeconomic classes and from both public and private schools. All races, all faiths, and all parts of the country, rural and urban, are represented.” As for the reason why birth rates are higher among girls from poor or minority families, the Journal of Marriage and the Family says: “White and higher S[ocio] E[conomic] S[tatus] girls more often have abortions.”
In the United States, women under 20 years of age account for a third of all legal abortions. Moral considerations aside, the decision to have an abortion often proves to be a difficult one to live with. “Believe me,” recalls one woman who had an abortion while just a teenager, “it hurts to know that I was the cause of a murder, a murder for which the victim will never know how sorry I am.”
Searching for Solutions
Social stigma, unstable marriages, poverty—these are common aftermaths of a teen pregnancy. Little wonder, then, that this matter has become a focus of concern for educators, doctors, politicians, and parents. Some call for sex-education programs, even demanding that contraceptives and abortion services be made easily accessible to youths.
Nevertheless, some youths have emotional needs that sex education cannot satisfy. Some girls, for example, have actually wanted to become pregnant! As one young girl put it: “I tried to get into trouble to get the attention of my parents. I figured this [baby] would be something that could be mine—nobody could take it and I would have a little piece of me left that would give me a reason for living.”
Furthermore, sex-education programs do not give youths moral guidance. Lands such as Sweden and the Netherlands, where such programs are common, may have few teenage pregnancies but promiscuity is rampant. Could it be that, in addition to pregnancies, promiscuity incurs grave emotional, moral, and spiritual costs? If so, is there valid reason to encourage, not contraception, but chastity? In answer, let us look at what the oldest book in existence—the Bible—has to say on this matter.
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“School-age girls who become pregnant come from all socioeconomic classes and from both public and private schools. All races, all faiths, and all parts of the country, rural and urban, are represented.”—The journal Adolescence.