More girls, especially Hispanic girls, are having babies at T.C. Williams High, where Patrick Welsh teaches. He wonders if the school is helping too much, shielding girls from the realities of teen pregnancy.
On the surface, Alexandria seems to be striving to stem teen pregnancy. Every high school student is required to take a “family life” course that teaches about birth control, sexually transmitted disease and teen pregnancy. The Adolescent Health Center, a clinic providing birth control, was built a few blocks from the school. The city-run Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy sponsors workshops for parents and teens. But none of this coalesces to hit the teens with the message that getting pregnant is a disaster. And within the school, apart from the family life class, the attitude is laissez-faire, as if teachers and administrators are afraid to address the issue for fear of offending the students who have children.
. . . Are we making it easier for girls to make a bad choice and helping them avoid the truth about the consequences?
The high school’s day care center has a long waiting list: More than half the students’ children are three to five years old.
Pregnancy makes low-income girls eligible for a wide range of services.
The Health Department assigns a nurse to the girl, a group called Resource Mothers is notified to pick girls up at school or home and drive them to doctor’s appointments, and the Campagna Center plans day care for the child. The school dietitian plans nutritious meals for the mothers. The federally funded WIC program provides free formula, milk, cheese, peanut butter and the like to the teens and their babies. In Virginia, girls from 13 on up are eligible for free reproductive services — prenatal care, hospital visits and delivery.
But the young mother has to raise her child, usually without the help of the child’s father.
Update: More black children are being raised by two parents, reports the New York Times.
According to the bureau’s estimates, the number of black children living with two parents was 59 percent in 1970, falling to 42 percent in 1980, 38 percent in 1990 and 35 percent in 2004. In 2007, the latest year for which data is available, it was 40 percent.
For non-Hispanic whites, the figure in 2007 was 77 percent, down from 90 percent in 1970.
The Census Bureau now defines any two people who live with a child as parents, whether they’re related or not, notes Opinion Journal.