BABY_ii.jpgbaby.jpgmonkey_baby.jpgThe Costs of Raising a Child


Teen Pregnancy isn't just a problem with a single layer to it, it can be broken up into many different facets that can affect more people than just the parents and baby. When parents are expecting they need to think about the different costs that will be associated with the prenatal visits, the delivery (assuming all goes well and there are no issues that arise), and raising a child. Depending on the parents' economical back ground, poor and low-income teens will feel the need to drop out of school, in fact according to California Department of Education, "70% of teen mothers drop out of high school, making pregnancy the primary reason young women drop out early. Only 30% of teen mothers complete high school by age 30, compared to 76% of women who delay parenthood until age 21 or older." The big problem with this statistic is, from the same source, "poor and low-income teens—who make up approximately 40% of the adolescent population - account for 83% of teens who give birth." (http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/cg/pp/teenpregnancy.asp)

The Reform Act of 1996, the Classroom, and Racial Connections


So with such alarming numbers in the lower income classes, why hasn't the government stepped in to help these statistics? In fact, the government has hindered the situation further with things like the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, where it was decided that over $50 million dollars annually will be dedicate to abstinence only teaching programs in the US. This has put lower income school systems into a position where if they want to teach sexual education, they must adhere to the strict guidelines set up by the Reform Act, or they are not granted any extra funding for their programs. According to an article on sexual education courses in our schools by the AIDS Research Facility at the UC San Francisco, "35% require abstinence to be taught as the only option for unmarried people, while either prohibiting discussion of contraception altogether or limiting discussion to contraceptive failure rates” (http://ari.ucsf.edu/science/reports/abstinence.pdf) And even if they teaching about preventing STIs, they are leaving out ways to prevent pregnancies through birth control as seen in this article on MSNBC.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39195543/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/) According to the US Census, Hispanic and Non-Hispanic white low-income single parent families averaged around 30% each, the African-American families topped at about 40% of the total low income single parent families. (http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032008/pov/new02_100_03.htm, http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032008/pov/new03_100_06.htm, http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032008/pov/new02_100_09.htm) With these numbers and the ones given above, how are these low income communities expected to be successful in teaching there students proven methods to help prevent pregnancy if they are limited to one method only?

Is Money the Only Problem?


It doesn't always come down to money with the problems at hand. Teachers need to realize that each student comes from a unique background. Culture helps shape and define the way we think and act. Depending on each students background, a teacher of sexual education will need to consider multiple methods that can fit into guide lines set up by different factors in their student's lives, from parents to religion. Roughly 70% of Latinos are of the Catholic faith, which doesn't allow the use of contraceptives. This can lead to a feeling of shame or embarrassment when the topic is addressed. It is crucial for the instructor to be aware of situations like this when guiding their class, as to not put anyone on the spot or make them uncomfortable.

Solutions and You!


By limiting the amount of resources offered to the youth of any economic or racial background you are setting them up for failure. For wealthy school districts, or even individual schools, that can afford to bring in their own sexual education programs, they are giving their students a better chance to arm themselves against the chances of teen pregnancies. For a way that you can help bring information to everyone you can find programs or institutions who strive to bring knowledge and break rumors about sexual education to all students regardless of race or financial status. A great example is the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (http://www.siecus.org/index.cfm) who is attempting to reach out to those school systems that don't have the funding to properly educate their students.