"I just can't believe that I'm having a baby."
June 11, 2002 10:54 AM   Subscribe

"I just can't believe that I'm having a baby." The yearbook at Pinellas Park High School this year included a 12 page spread about teen pregnancy and highlights some students and their experiences with staying in school while pregnant. Some see it a step in educating students about the issue, others see it as a glorification of teen pregnancy. Having had an older sister almost not finish high school because of a pregnancy, I'm all for education, but is the yearbook the appropriate place?
posted by turacma (38 comments total)
 
Signs of the times, um.

Maybe because a yearbook might have more shelf life than many other books and magazines?

Trouble is with many parents who still believe sexual education is someone else's business.
posted by betobeto at 11:15 AM on June 11, 2002


I'd say the yearbook is an appropriate place. My high school had to have a daycare for all the babies of the teen mothers still enrolled, so at least in my school district it was an issue that many students had to deal with. I say as long as the article is neither completely damning or blatantly glorifying teen pregnancy, its a good idea, as I can't see how a factual dialogue about the issue could be anything other than constructive.
posted by darainwa at 11:41 AM on June 11, 2002


How nice for that majority of students to which the mistakes of these few students is not relevant. Can we have a section where the kids who pick up STDs talk about it (or lecture us), too, please? With pictures?
posted by rushmc at 11:44 AM on June 11, 2002


How nice for that majority of students to which the mistakes of these few students is not relevant. Can we have a section where the kids who pick up STDs talk about it (or lecture us), too, please? With pictures?

how isn't teen pregnancy relevant, rush? are all the other sexually active teen girls at the school unable to conceive a child? maybe there should be an article on STDs: as i recall, chlamydia is on the rise among teens.

rush's eye-rolling snark aside, this was an interesting article. from the content, the article in the yearbook seems to have been very well-done. thanks, turacma.
posted by moz at 11:55 AM on June 11, 2002


(unless rush had some grand bit of sarcasm going on and i am being just horribly dense today.)
posted by moz at 11:56 AM on June 11, 2002


I guess I was just a little shocked that it would be allowed in the year book. Of course, I graduated from a school system that made waves in the northeast because of a policy on homosexuality. The newly elected conservative majority on the school board instituted a policy that "Homosexuality will not be discussed as a positive alternative lifestyle".

I can only imagine how many busy-bodies in my town would have kittens at something like this appearing in the school paper, let alone the yearbook. But perhaps it is the sign of the times.

and thanks for the positive feedback moz, was a little worried about this being my first front page post
posted by turacma at 12:18 PM on June 11, 2002


Obviously it's part of the lives of some of the students.

My Senior yearbook had pictures and articles on everything from an ice storm, overcrowding, jobs, cars, etc, why not parenting, if there are parents in the school?
posted by SuzySmith at 12:25 PM on June 11, 2002


Then, we have the darker side of teen pregnancy in the Sunshine State...
posted by groundhog at 12:47 PM on June 11, 2002


Whats wrong with teenagers having babies? How many girls will forgo having babies because of the stigma end up never having kids later in life and perhaps regreting it. Or having kids at age 35 and all the problems it can have. A pregnant teen that has approprite support is IMO a good way to go for everyone involved. She raises the child and by age 40 is an empty nester.
posted by stbalbach at 2:19 PM on June 11, 2002


Cool! Teen pregnancy and teen motherhood is a significant part of these students' lives, so why shouldn't it be featured in the yearbook?

Obviously, it could have been done tastelessly (either pro- or con-), but it sounds as though it was handled well.

As a former yearbookie myself, I applaud this.
posted by beth at 2:36 PM on June 11, 2002


Whats wrong with teenagers having babies? How many girls will forgo having babies because of the stigma end up never having kids later in life and perhaps regreting it.

It's true -- just because you can do something, it means you should!
posted by kindall at 3:16 PM on June 11, 2002


Cool! Teen pregnancy and teen motherhood is a significant part of these students' lives

Correction, of SOME of these students' lives. It's an important distinction. Granted, not all students are in the chess club, either, but that section of the yearbook is rarely rife with moral overtones or patronizing admonishments.
posted by rushmc at 3:17 PM on June 11, 2002


Whats wrong with teenagers having babies?

Where should we start? How about the obvious health problems, including a higher risk of low birthweight, (which can lead to serious problems and is more prevalent the younger the mother) premature labor, anemia, high blood pressure, eclampsia, toxemia and a host of placental problems which can lead to oxygen deprivation and brain damage to the fetus.

Then there's the fact that teenagers who become parents are far more likely to be impoverished than those who delay childbearing. Their dropout rates are more than double that of their childless peers, which leads to low employment and low income. They are also far more likely to be and remain unmarried. Nearly 50% of unmarried teen mothers end up on wellfare within two years of giving birth.

Then there's the children -- statistically more likely to have educational difficulties and poor health, exacerbated by the likelyhood of their mothers to be impoverished and undereducated.

I think all of those represent good enough reasons to avoid teen pregnancy. I hope that this yearbook spread pointed out these pitfalls to early motherhood instead of merely presenting a puff piece with these girls talking about how hard it was to get all of their studying done when their baby wanted a bottle and a diaper change every two hours.
posted by Dreama at 3:28 PM on June 11, 2002


groundhog, that article you linked made me shudder. I guess it was the *cool* information contained within it, such as:

Weiss' stepmother, Cherylann Weiss, had initially expressed concern over whether her stepdaughter could handle another pregnancy, but on Monday she gushed with excitement, saying Aimee was eager to embark on motherhood.

''A year ago she was more in denial over her situation,'' Weiss said. ``Aimee has done a lot of growing up and maturing since then.''

This is Weiss' third pregnancy, Rubin said. Her first ended in a miscarriage, he said. According to police, Weiss told detectives she had asked friends to jump on her stomach during her second pregnancy in the hope of causing a miscarriage.


That mother is a whack job..."a year ago she was in denial and killed her kid, but she's OK this year."

Oy.
posted by sbgrove at 3:48 PM on June 11, 2002


There obviously wasn't a lot of info about this story as the author felt it necessary to quote someone who hadn't even SEEN the yearbook story: "Although she had not seen a copy of the Pinellas Park High School yearbook..." Strikes me as a non-issue for the school or they could have found someone of "authority" who read the damn thing.

That said, teen pregnancy just isn't a good idea. Period. For all the well-presented reasons Dreama gave, but also, kids just aren't ready to have kids. I don't care how "mature" you are, kids aren't going to be the kind of parents needed in this day and age. Gross generalizations here, but they usually don't get married, don't develop careers and get jobs where they can move out of poverty, and many end up having even more children out of wedlock (usually a result of the low self-esteem issues that come along with teenage pregnancy.) They haven't even matured from being kids themselves. It's just a bad idea. And the worst part is that children of girls who had babies young, usually end up becoming (or causing others to become) pregnant while they're young, as well. The whole cycle repeats itself, leaving the rest of us to pay for welfare, food stamps, child care, medical care, and other hand-outs given to young, out of work or low income worker, poor moms.

I think the culture of acceptance around teenage and out of wedlock pregnancies is wrong. We're so scared of insulting people or being labeled "insensitive" or racist that no one really speaks out against it. It's not a good thing for the mother or baby or society.
posted by aacheson at 4:26 PM on June 11, 2002


The whole reason teen pregnancy has become such a problem is because the stigma is almost nonexistent nowadays. Things like daycare on school campuses (I think teen girls with kids should go to special schooling) just contribute to the notion that such things are "cool" and "cute". Then the cycle just continues...
posted by owillis at 4:31 PM on June 11, 2002


Is it really that unreasonable for a woman to have a child at 18? Yes, 20 is a bit better medically, but for many of us, we're basically full grown by 18 with all systems go. Sometimes I fill out the surveys for teenagers asking whether you are ready to have sex, and they tell me I'm not mature enough yet-- even though I'm old enough to have a teenage daughter myself. Do I have to wait another 10 or 20 years till I can "handle having sex"? This much touted plan that "somehow you will manipulate your circumstances so a man marries you and you have a good job with money in the bank, and then maybe you can consider having sex or pregnancy" is simply not realistic.

There are two sets of triplets on this street. Young women, who are probably getting shot up with anti-pregnancy hormones, wheel the triplets up and down the road, and save the money they are earning so that they can have fertility treatments and multiple births in their 30s or 40s too. It's bizarre.
posted by sheauga at 5:25 PM on June 11, 2002


I wonder if any of the fathers were interviewed or included in the pregnancy section of the yearbook. The article gives no indication that they were, which I find odd, since the pregnancies and the prospect of teenage parenthood are hard on them as well, and their stories should be an important addition to the yearbook.
posted by iconomy at 5:56 PM on June 11, 2002


Is it me, or did someone relate teen pregnancy to getting an STD?

If there are students in the school who have children, their lives certainly would serve as an example/warning to other kids. Why can't that be enough?

From the start of this thread I just knew someone would start in on the welfare thing (though the whole welfare mom thing is blown out of proportion compared to, say, how much money the government gives IBM in corporate welfare), but I can't believe someone used the phrase 'out of wedlock' after 1978.
posted by troybob at 6:02 PM on June 11, 2002


I'm also put-off by the welfare admonishments in this thread. Some of you sound like teen mothers are something that just happened for the first time last year. There's really two ways you can go with this - manage the problem intelligently or morally dismiss them. There has been and will always be x amount of teen mothers on welfare. Not to mention teen pregnancies have been in decline for at least twenty or so years, but there's just no satisfying "the sky is falling" crowd.

Teen parenting articles and daycare are a small price to pay, if they're even wrong in the first place, to help keep these students in school. As long as there are sex ed classes that tackle the issue of teen parentening with facts and not outdated morals then its probably the best outcome for all involved.

As far as the yearbook goes, whatever goes into it is a reflection of the yearbook staff's interests. The article claims the teen mothers section is about both the "heaven and hell" of having children at a young age, but even if it was biased in either respect it would simply look badly on those responsible for the content of the yearbook. Sign of the times? Well, technically its a sign of one high school, others have to chime in before we can decide whether this is going mainstream or not.
posted by skallas at 6:56 PM on June 11, 2002


I was on the yearbook, and we didn't do a spread on the kids who were always in detention, or the kids who were always smoking beyond the handball courts instead of going to class, or any other gang of worthless losers who were doing a fine job of ruining their lives. Idiotic teen moms and the assholes who knock them up, are, of course going one step further and doing most of the job of ruining another, innocent life.
posted by MattD at 7:47 PM on June 11, 2002


And, of course, out in the real world of people who work for a living and mow their lawns on the weekend, having a child "out of wedlock" is just as deeply ignominious as it ever has been, 2002 every bit as much as 1978.
posted by MattD at 7:49 PM on June 11, 2002


Is it me, or did someone relate teen pregnancy to getting an STD?

Well, it's not an entirely apt comparison, granted.

STDs can sometimes be cured, or at least treated.
posted by rushmc at 8:11 PM on June 11, 2002


Gee, thanks, Matt, I hope you're trolling.

Considering I was born "out of wedlock" in 1978, and here I am today with a well-paying job, a decent level of education, and no children of my own, your dismissal of many women here rather irks me. My mother has never been on welfare, mows her lawn on the weekends, and worked for a living (before taking early retirement.)

Teen parenting is generally a really bad idea, but not every single parent is a welfare queen, OK? I hate to have to point that out, but apparently some people still need help figuring it out. I wonder if these are the same people who used to give me crap on the playground about not having a dad when I was a kid. Of course, the same lot ended up generally fatherless a few years later after their parents got divorced...

I'd hate to have to return to the days where teen mothers got expelled from high school and had almost no chance of finishing an education at all.

Considering all the stupid crap that ends up in yearbooks, like the heterosexist pages all about "best couples" and whatnot, what's wrong with showing all sides of the school?
posted by Electric Elf at 8:17 PM on June 11, 2002


Teen parenting articles and daycare are a small price to pay, if they're even wrong in the first place, to help keep these students in school.

You have a good point here, skallas. My point is that it should not only be the careless, the screw-ups, or the unlucky whose rights we care about. It's comparable to the endless stream of crap anti-drug lectures we were subjected to even back when I was in school. I found it demeaning and patronizing in the extreme to punish ME and waste MY time because other people didn't have the sense not to do themselves harm. My good sense and morality (and track record) was probably superior to that of most of the teachers and administrators, and yet they presumed to lecture me??

This is a similar situation in many ways. But it also reflects what I've always seen as a problem with yearbooks, that a few students are empowered to produce something that is supposed to be for all students but often is subject entirely to the whims of those few. Which is a much less serious situation than teen pregnancies, I'll grant you.
posted by rushmc at 8:19 PM on June 11, 2002


Yearbook? Whatever happened to health class?
posted by darukaru at 9:51 PM on June 11, 2002


I just need a refresher on the proper Christian reaction to a pregnant teenager. "Acceptance" of teen pregnancies is "wrong" but... so is abortion, right?

So basically, to family-values types, once a girl has unmarried sex and then is unlucky enough to become pregnant, she can do no right. The most proper thing to do is to ship the mother-to-be off to a home for unwed mothers so that no one has to be made uncomfortable by the sight of this pregnant teenager waddling around. Maybe if you're very lucky---very blessed---you can find a good family to take the baby away, and no one will be the wiser. All the convenience of abortion without the icky killing. If a home is not an option, or if that silly girl doesn't want to carry a baby for nine months and then give it away to strangers, then you just make damn sure that girl is sorry for the rest of her life that she got pregnant, so she doesn't think you condone it. Oh sure, it might fuck up her head a little bit, make it a little harder for her to be a loving mother to her baby, and that can't be good for the baby, who's really faultless in this whole thing---but hey, communicating your moral superiority is the most important thing here. Is that about right?

Personally, I hope that Stacy Pauley feels some pride when she looks at her yearbook and sees that photo of her baby. Not proud of her accomplishments, because having a baby before ever leaving high school isn't much of one to be sure---but proud that she didn't take the "easy" way out and have an abortion, choosing instead to deal with months of snickering and pointing in the hallways of her school, and with years of whispering and sanctimony to come from ill-mannered people who can't hide their disapproval when they spot such a young mother and her child out in public.
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:12 AM on June 12, 2002


I have to say, having dropped out of grad school for the next two semesters because I didn't want to deal with pregnancy and campus, that I'm pretty impressed these girls were able to finish school.

I mean, with morning sickness, and the napping, and the crankiness...and in late term not fitting into desks, and swollen ankles and sonograms...preggers is not an easy state. Then once the baby is born, there's breastfeeding and diaper changing and all kinds of other details that require a lot of time and dedication.

It was easier for me to decide to take a year off than to try and fit all of the medical requirements and physical requirements around my scholastic requirements. (And the program will still be there next fall.)

So, ignoring the morality of the issue, I'm impressed that these girls were able to work around the physical difficulties.
posted by dejah420 at 11:00 AM on June 12, 2002


Teen offspring goes well with grape jelly on a toasted sesame trailerpark.
posted by Quixoticlife at 11:21 AM on June 12, 2002


Sapphireblue, I'm not sure I get your point. What does Christian hypocrisy have to do with not allowing the consequences of people's choices to intrude upon the classroom and scholastic society? I think both are bad, but didn't see that this particular thread had much to do with the former...?
posted by rushmc at 12:44 PM on June 12, 2002


My point? That those ideals that we cranky atheists think of sarcastically as "good Christian morals" include a long-cherished tradition of sweeping the young, pregnant, single girl under the rug, any way possible. The kids who put together this yearbook portrayed Stacy & friends as not whores, not trailer-trash, not welfare queens, not even as symbolic emblems of one of America's hot-button social issues, but as people. Remarkable. I'd love to know if the rest of their yearbook is so free of airbrushed reality.

Apologies if I ruined the fun by interrupting the name-calling, the welfare jokes, the not-so-subtle message that a young unwed mother is worthless unless cast as a warning to others. If it helps, I purposely let this thread age a day before posting my thoughts, so that the predictable would have its fair chance.
posted by Sapphireblue at 1:57 PM on June 12, 2002


Electric Elf wrote: Teen parenting is generally a really bad idea, but not every single parent is a welfare queen, OK? I wrote: "Gross generalizations here." OF COURSE not every teen parent turns out to be a deadbeat. No kidding.

My point is that if you can't take care of a kid, on your own, with your own money, on your own time, without schlepping your misake off on someone else to pay for or take care of, then go for it. But the majority of teen moms can't do any of those things. You are lucky your mom had it together. But most don't.

As for the "out of wedlock" hubbub. I'm not going to apologize for having a problem with that. I have many less issues of you're a woman having a child alone and are in a secure place in your life, but teens usually aren't. I don't know of one teen who has a jobs and live secure enough to bring a child into. Just because it's PC to be "okay" with irresponsible moms and dads, doesn't mean I'm going to be that way.

As for the jerks who got the girls pregnant and then dismiss their whole responsibility for it, fuck them. I am most angry at them. They get their rocks off and then leave the poor girls to deal with the fallout-be it abortion or childbirth. Men who get girls/women pregnant and leave them are the lowest of the low. I have no respect for them and never, ever will. They should have to leave the schools just like the girls do and go to a "pregnancy school" too. Then they can at least learn there are consequences to their actions. Another good option, make them work at school day-care centers. One year, after school each day and weekends, for every girl they impregnate.

SapphireBlue, I wasn't making any jokes whatsoever about welfare moms. I was very serious. I don't feel much but contempt for teens who get pregnant (and often go on welfare and become a burden to society.) I'm sure those girls knew about condoms. I'm sure they knew the chances they were taking. And they chose to take them, to live for the moment and be irresponsible. Well, I'm not okay with that. I'm not saying they're whores or useless, and I'm surely not a christian and bringing that whole morals thing into the picture, but I'm not going to say "it's okay." Millions of kids in highschool have sex, and most of them are smart enough to not get pregnant.
posted by aacheson at 2:25 PM on June 12, 2002


So who are you assuming to be exercising these Christian values, Sapphireblue? The kids in the school in the article? In other schools that don't celebrate(?) their pregnant students in their yearbooks? The posters in this thread?

Is the sarcastic addendum really necessary to make your point? I think we all got your viewpoint on this and don't see what that adds to the discussion.
posted by rushmc at 7:14 PM on June 12, 2002


Men who get girls/women pregnant and leave them are the lowest of the low.

Really? Lower than murderers? Lower than terrorists? Than politicians and lawyers??
posted by rushmc at 7:15 PM on June 12, 2002


and lawyers??

Ahem.

I don't see anyone exercising much by way of values by creating a page with this grinning little girl talking about being happy and loving puppies and chimpanzees and playing with her baby.

Wait till baby gets an ear infection and won't stop screaming because the pain is so bad. Wait until baby starts teething and won't spend more than a minute out of your arms. Wait until baby is two and doesn't want to listen to a word you say. Wait until baby is three and won't stop saying "Mommy, why...? Mommy, why...?" Wait till baby is four and catches chicken pox and won't stop crying because the itching is so bad.

Life isn't all smiles and puppies and chimps and happiness. And unless there's a page which tempers Stacy Paulson's rosy reflections on motherhood with a little reality, then this is a promo piece.

The kids who put together this yearbook portrayed Stacy & friends as not whores, not trailer-trash, not welfare queens, not even as symbolic emblems of one of America's hot-button social issues, but as people.

So where is the person whose experience with motherhood has included some of the not-so-picturesque side? You want to talk about "airbrushed reality" I'd say that this is nothing but. These young women don't have to be held up as "warnings" but they ought not be portrayed as just another group of students who made just another lifestyle choice, because that would be seen as a tacit endorsement of single, teenage motherhood, and that would be an encouragement for other girls to decide "Well, it wouldn't be that bad if I had a baby."

Motherhood does include happiness and playing with baby and smiles and puppies and love. But it also includes pain, sickness, labour and delivery, work from the day you bring that baby home, sacrifice of time and energy and yur own desires, dirty diapers to change and dirty clothes to wash, sore breasts or bottles that have to be made, diapers that have to be bought and a loss of the freedoms that are supposed to be inherent in youth, freedoms that won't ever be regained. That's reality, and it would be interesting to know whether or not that is mentioned anywhere in the yearbook.
posted by Dreama at 7:53 PM on June 12, 2002


Wow, well put Dreama!

Rushmc...good point. I was on a rant at the time and the guys seemed to be the "lowest of the low." But you're right, unfortunately there are definitely worse people in the world.
posted by aacheson at 8:41 AM on June 13, 2002


I'm not sure I get your point

I think we all got your viewpoint on this

I've nothing more to say :>
posted by Sapphireblue at 8:47 AM on June 13, 2002


point != viewpoint
posted by rushmc at 8:26 PM on June 13, 2002


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