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New Direction for Pregnant Teens ^ | March 5, 2011 | Kathryn Lopez

Posted on 03/05/2011 4:55:24 AM PST by Kaslin

"What can you do to stem the tide of teen pregnancy?" Jacquelyn Wideman asks from New York City, where the rate is at least 12 percent higher than the national average.

"Get them engaged," she says, answering her own question.

To do this, she proposes New Directions, a proposed charter school for Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The idea behind it is to get teenage mothers and fathers dealing with their new responsibilities in "a motivational, supportive environment," Wideman, a nonprofit consultant on the planning team, explains. "The proposed charter high school seeks to give them the environment, the area, the access to continue their education."

New Directions is the dream of a group of New Yorkers, many of whom are associated with the Faith Assemblies of God Church in Brooklyn. According to the school's working mission: it would "provide an environment that is non-judgmental, encourages academic growth and excellence, develops self-confidence and worth and promotes critical thinking skills that will open the door for positive life choices."

How exactly does a school that serves teen parents "stem the tide of teen pregnancy"? For one, it's not accommodating the teenagers. It's challenging and equipping them to meet the difficulties of their new life as parents. "They see this is very hard. That may prevent them from a repeat pregnancy," Wideman explains. The engagement strategy is quite practical: "Keep them busy, so they're not motivated to have a second child."

The school's curriculum would avoid busy work. Wideman stresses excellence, with stringent class requirements and a focus on the graduation rate. Helping at-risk students end up college-bound is not an easy task, but with online schools and other options, New Directions would help these too-young parents map out their options. Wideman tells me that her organization wants "to get students educated, to assist them to in completing their educations, providing employment opportunities, and helping them succeed."

In 2007, the last four public high schools for pregnant teenagers closed in New York City. Wideman believes the reasons they failed were a lack of vigilance in covering core subject areas, failure to prepare students for key state exams, and lack of follow-through when a student didn't show up. Attendance was low. The New Directions planning team wants to make sure that theirs is one place that reaches out and holds enrolled students accountable.

But by pushing teen parents to see opportunities that could be theirs, the New Directions strategy is to not pretend that life has not changed. Further: "We want to discourage them to get pregnant again," Wideman tells me. While creating a "non-judgmental" environment, New Directions would seek to put these kids on a truly new direction: away from more pregnancies before they're ready, and away from dependency. Toward even the possibility of, perhaps, something more than a "minimum-wage-paying job," through a lot of work in this new reality -- providing for the family they've created.

A critic of the idea told the New York Post, "I don't think that we should be creating schools that segregate young women or men based on their parenting status." But it's precisely when we treat teen pregnancy as just another lifestyle choice that we've surrendered. And, frankly, there's a little healthy stigma that comes from separation -- not to make a new parent feel bad when already they're overwhelmed, but to enforce the idea, to new parents and their teenage colleagues, that family is serious business. Pregnancy does change things: her life became a lot more work; he sure had to grow up fast.

This is all certainly a matter for continuing discussion and study (and New Directions is nowhere near a reality yet; its proposal is being tweaked and resubmitted next January; a similar successful model exists in Detroit): How to make sure too-young parents have the support they need when they find themselves in a difficult situation, without encouraging the behavior that got them into the situation in the first place? In New York, a city with a shockingly high 41-percent abortion rate -- higher in Brooklyn and higher among black and Hispanics -- it is crucial for young women and girls to know that if they wind up pregnant, they don't have to end their child's life. There is adoption, and there is help. Numerous religious and social organizations, such as Good Counsel Homes and Sisters for Life, offer needed services to struggling young parents.

But a conversation about kids who are having or have had kids cannot be had without talking about abstinence. Successful abstinence education is really character education, and involves making one's life about more than attracting the attention of the opposite sex. It's about giving students more to aim for than what they may see around them; it's knowing that life and love can and should be about mutual and self-respect, dignity and responsibility.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial

1 posted on 03/05/2011 4:55:26 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Quit supporting them. That’ll stop it.

2 posted on 03/05/2011 5:00:17 AM PST by Daveinyork
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To: Kaslin
Sorry, but I slightly misread the title.
3 posted on 03/05/2011 5:02:04 AM PST by ASA Vet (Natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. De Vattel)
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To: Kaslin

This is stupid. I was a teen mom x2, had one when I was 18 and the other when i was 19. I am now 34 and have done a fine job raising my kids. What alot of people dont realize is our bodies are programmed to start having kids when we start menstrating, not at 34 or 35 like society would like.
Basically what I would like to convey is that women have been having babies at these ages since the beginning of time...and we have survived.I had to be accountable for myself and do what I had to do and raise my kids. I think thats where the problem is. Make these young adults accountable for their decisions, make abortions illegal, hold the parents of the teen accountable and I am sure teen pregnancy will come down some. But you will never have a level thats acceptable to “society”. Just my 2 cents!

4 posted on 03/05/2011 5:21:45 AM PST by Jessica2677 (S.O.S.)
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: Kaslin

Quit glorifying teen sexual conduct.

6 posted on 03/05/2011 6:17:24 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer.")
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To: blueunicorn6

>>Quit glorifying teen sexual conduct<<

You win the Internet today!

7 posted on 03/05/2011 6:32:43 AM PST by netmilsmom (Happiness is a choice.)
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To: netmilsmom

Quit glorifying sexual conduct outside marriage for people of any age. A fatherless child is a fatherless child, even if his mother is 21.

8 posted on 03/05/2011 6:37:43 AM PST by Tax-chick (It's a non-optional social convention, okay?)
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To: Kaslin

How many unmarried fathers actually attend this school?

What will stem teen pregnancies is getting fathers (legally) involved in financially supporting the kids they co-create.

9 posted on 03/05/2011 6:38:29 AM PST by Lorianne (During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. ___ George Orwell)
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To: Kaslin

“We want to discourage them to get pregnant again,” Wideman tells me....

I sincerely hope she is not in charge of the English curriculum.

10 posted on 03/05/2011 6:39:06 AM PST by Bigg Red (Palin in 2012)
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To: Kaslin
Margret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, favored abortion as the tool to solve the "black problem" {her words not mine}.

Planned Parenthood has been more effective in the black and poor neighborhoods and only because conservatives have been fighting to stop abortion have so many black babys been saved from their own murder by their would be mothers.

I've been against all abortions all of my life, but I'm not omnipotent, what if I'm wrong.

11 posted on 03/05/2011 7:07:29 AM PST by USS Alaska (Nuke the terrorist savages, in honor of Standing Wolf.)
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To: Kaslin

If abortion were illegal, boys would think twice about getting a girl pregnant. As it is now, they know if a pregnancy occurs, she can get it ‘fixed’. And if she doesn’t, the fault transfers to her and he is absolved in his mind.

12 posted on 03/05/2011 7:36:31 AM PST by sportutegrl
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To: Tax-chick

>>Quit glorifying sexual conduct outside marriage for people of any age. A fatherless child is a fatherless child, even if his mother is 21.<<


13 posted on 03/05/2011 8:34:37 AM PST by netmilsmom (Happiness is a choice.)
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To: Daveinyork

>>>Quit supporting them. That’ll stop it.<<<

You are right. I’m living in the Alaskan Bush, which has one of the highest rates of out-of-wedlock births of any location in the United States. Pregnant single girls can count on free medical care, free housing, free college classes, free baby food, free clothing for the baby, free diapers, free day care, and free counseling services. (Not an overstatement - that’s just a list of what a pregnant single woman gets up here.) Therefore, it’s no surprise that girls will indulge those good feelings which emerge from the nether regions with abandon, knowing that any pregnancy will be fully supported by the state.

I’m a teacher up here, and I keep in touch with my former students. It is startling beyond words how many are pregnant without husbands or fathers at home. I have no precise numbers, but my Facebook list of former students has about two dozen kids either pregnant or with babies - and none have husbands or fathers.

The first sin we make is hiding the truth with nice words. We used to call these kids “bastards” or “illigitimate.” That stigmatizes the kids, certainly, but also communicates the idea that single parenthood isn’t healthy. We also used to force men to marry the girls they knocked up - the “shotgun marriage.” Interestingly - and this is probably an expression of biology more than culture - girls who are sexually active are still derided as “sluts,” even in the era of easy birth control. The sad result is that there is a group of girls who defer gratification and move into the professions, while another group just gives in, gets pregnant, and sinks into poverty (albeit government-sponsored poverty), and the two groups move apart quickly after high school.

By the way, you should see how a lack of a father damages children. A fairly large minority of my students wander through life without the guidance and love provided by a father. Some are badly hurt. This may sound strange, but I can guess with some accuracy which kids have an intact father-mother family and those from single homes. It’s almost always never good for the single-parent kids.

Just my two cents.

14 posted on 03/05/2011 9:47:38 AM PST by redpoll
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To: redpoll

It’s worth more than 2 cents, and I’d like to mention the lowly nickel here. If young women kept it between their knees, there would be a lot fewer teen pregnancies.

Planned Parenthood’s slogan used to be - “love carefully.” Now it’s “u rapem, we scrapem, no fetus can beatus”

15 posted on 03/05/2011 9:51:59 AM PST by Daveinyork
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To: Jessica2677

YES...what YOU said. Actions should have CONSEQUENCES. I was a young Mom too (19)....I was always pretty mature for my age....but, it makes you even more responsible, IF that is what society demands!

16 posted on 03/05/2011 11:37:50 AM PST by goodnesswins (Unlike the West, the Islamic world is serious.)
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