Teenage Pregnancy

THIS IS MY BLOG FOR FEBRUARY WEEK 4

A pregnancy is considered to be an adolescent pregnancy if the girl is 19 years old or younger and today, 820,000 teen pregnancies occur each year (The National Campaign). The problem of teenage pregnancy truly emerged in the 1960’s when teenage sexual activity increased and the rates of teenage pregnancies and births began presenting a problem to individuals, families, and our nation. Our nation’s statistics are particularly high, being eight times larger than Japan, four times larger than France and Germany, and twice as large as Britain (Stewart). While the teen pregnancy rates have been dropping over the last years this is still a prominent problem that gives way to social and economical problems both familial and national.

The United States has always had the largest number of teenage pregnancies, reaching an all time high in 1991 (Stewart). Now we are experiencing all time lows with a 44 percent drop in teen births from 1991 through 2010. As of 2010 there are 34.3 births per 1000 women each year, reaching an all time low since 1946 (Castillo). Many different doctors and specialists credit this to less sexual activity, more use of contraception and birth control, and more knowledge of the risks sex brings (Sanghavi).

Teenage pregnancies have the ability to completely change the lives of the individuals involved in the pregnancy along with their families, generally for the worse. That’s not to say that the life they are bringing into the world is a bad thing, but the situations that the children of teen mothers are born into are, more often than not, less than desirable. The daughters of teen mothers are 22% more likely to become pregnant and the sons of teen moms are 13% more likely to end up in prison (Teen Pregnancy Statistics). In addition to the bleaker possible future of a teen mom’s children, family life and the lives of the girl that ends up pregnant can be drastically changed at the sight of a positive pregnancy test. Having a child at such a young age often derails the mother’s education plans and only 1.5% of teen mom’s have earned their college degree by age 30 (Teen Pregnancy Statistics). Even worse, only 50 percent of teen mom’s graduate high school. In today’s world, adequately providing for yourself and your children is made duly difficult with the lack of a college degree, and is even worse without a high school diploma(Teen Pregnancy Statistics). 80 percent of unmarried teen moms end up on welfare and 50 percent of unmarried teen moms end up on welfare in the first year(Teen Pregnancy Statistics). This can be tracked to the lack of education and employment.

Not only does teen pregnancy have negative repercussions on the family but it also comes back to affect the government, taxpayers, and society in general. The United States government pays 10.9 billion dollars annually towards the expenses caused by teenage pregnancies (Teen Pregnancy Statistics). One expense is the thousands of families on welfare due to the unexpected mouths to feed, cloth and take care of and parents with no jobs or qualifications to care for them (The National Campaign). Another is the billions of dollars spent on public health care for those who cannot afford insurance from a private insurance company (Teen Sexuality). This is once again linked back to the lack of education and unemployment so often found among teenage parents. And even when the parents are trying desperately to make enough money and have honest jobs, their lack of education may lead to the problem of still not making enough to pay all of the bills. The end result is the millions of taxpayers compensating their money for the wellbeing of teenage parents and their children.

    Taxpayers and citizens may find themselves frustrated with the situation of teen pregnancy today however, so are the pregnant teens. Not only do many teens not want to get pregnant in the first place, 80 percent of teen pregnancies are unintended, a surprising amount of teenagers have opinions against sexual activity (Sanghavi) . 82 percent of teens feel that teens shouldn’t be sexually active and 73 percent believe that being a virgin shouldn’t be embarrassing (Freeze Frame 2012). Almost 50% of high schoolers haven’t had sex and moreover 67 percent of those who have wish they would have waited (Stewart).

Because of the negative repercussions that teenage pregnancy brings to teens, their families, the US government, and essentially all of America, the government and other programs have been fighting to drop the numbers in the statistics of adolescent pregnancy. Less teen pregnancies means more people completing their education and being able to live without welfare and less taxes being used on the families of teens who made irresponsible decisions in their adolescent years.

So far, the solution has been more evidence based education to more teenagers, and so far this has seen incredible improvement. As stated above, the teen pregnancy rates are the lowest they have ever been since 1946. One thing that we do need to take into consideration when stating that the rates are the same as in 1946 is the fact that in the forties young marriages and pregnancies were a common thing with less complications than today and these pregnancies were largely to married women. These weren’t babies born out of wedlock into family situations that can negatively affect their futures. So in a more realistic sense, teen pregnancy rates have improved from when the problem truly arose in the sixties, and are exponentially better than the 90’s, when the United State’s rates were in their worst conditions that have been seen as of yet (The National Campaign).

There are two widely used and accepted methods of education that are used in the hopes of lowering teen pregnancy rates. One is teaching abstinence and the other is sex education.

In an abstinence program teens are taught to wait until marriage or later in life, after schooling and when they are responsible and have a responsible partner, to have sex. This way, if the girl becomes pregnant the parents will have a better chance at being emotionally and financially ready to care for their child.Abstinence is truly the only way to protect oneself 100% against getting pregnant, getting another person pregnant, or contracting an STI or STD.

However, many argue against this method of teaching due to the fact that, as proved by so many teen pregnancy statistics over the years, an abundance of teens don’t wait for sex. Many do wait, but many are eager for the experience or to be able to say they have “done it, are coerced into it, or don’t have enough patience to wait. If these teens have only received education heeding them to wait for sex, then when they engage in sexual intercourse they won’t have the proper education on using contraceptives leaving them much more susceptible to becoming pregnant at such an early age (Teenage Pregnancy Prevention).

This recurring problem brings about the alternative education method, which is more focused on sex education and the variety of ways to keep from having an unwanted pregnancy that can put you into difficult situations. Sex education informs students on how to use contraceptives such as birth control and condoms and the risks of contracting STIs. These classes also teach about the risk of HIV and AIDS (Stewart). With the evidence of how these things can really throw a wrench in your life may persuade some to choose abstinence but, for the ones who choose not to wait, they will then have the proper knowledge on how to protect themselves from pregnancy, infections, and diseases. However, the protection that comes with contraception can never be as solid of protection as abstinence, and this is enforced on teens as well.

Because of the higher level of sex education being provided to young teens these days, more teens are practicing safe sex or abstinence. Over 50% of adolescents are taught about contraceptives, STD’s, how to say no to sex, and birth control between the 6th and 8th grade (Stewart). Some are taught in the years of elementary school and some don’t receive this information until their high school years. While learning about such serious topics in elementary and middle school may seem far too early, it is taught this soon because this is when it needs to be taught. “We have to introduce these topics early, because some students are already engaging in sexual intercourse and need to have the proper information to stay safe. We have to catch the students before they make bad decisions, end up in difficult situations, and its too late to prevent it” (Bodnar).. The fact that more teens are more knowledgeable has been a leading factor in the decline of teenage pregnancies.

Another way that teens are encouraged to refrain from sex or use contraceptives are the campaigns launched by popular companies and stories told through media such as 17 magazine and MTV.

The popular Candie’s fashion brand is well known for warning against teen pregnancy. The Candie’s Foundation was established in 2001 by Neil Cole, the owner of the fashion brand, and encourages girls to be safe or practice abstinence with the slogan “Don’t be a statistic”(Candie’s). Candie’s presents the idea that waiting for sex and being sexy can be a synonymous idea, which can appeals to some teenage girls a lot more than thinking of themselves as too modest or conservative or prude. They also use popular celebrities as cover girls for their campaigns, further inspiring girls to stay away from teen pregnancy.

In addition to campaigns, multiple companies believe in using stories of teens getting pregnant to discourage more girls from going down the same path. Seventeen Magazine publishes a sort of “learn from my experience” story each issue, told from the point of view of a teenage girl. Seventeen has featured stories about teen moms in this section, in addition to a girl who faked her own pregnancy as a social experiment for how she was treated would change if people thought she was pregnant. Seventeen also supports a campaign against teen pregnancy.

Another company that has brought much controversy to the subject of teen pregnancy and has profited no matter what is MTV. Through television shows like 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, and Teen Mom 2 the difficult lives of teenage mothers has been broadcasted to the world (Teen Mom). Some argue that this show brings a realistic light to the world of a teen mom and may discourage others from following in the characters’ footsteps while others argue that it glorifies the world of a teenage pregnancy and the life that follows. According to interviews conducted by the Candie’s Foundation real teen mom’s find both good and bad in the series. Many said that the shows show the hardships of being a mother at such a young age, yet still manage to gloss over some of the details. The show Teen Mom features teen moms Maci, Farrah, Amber and Catelynn (Teen Mom). The show has followed their lives as teen moms since the first season of the show and provides insight into the money, family, and boy troubles they face each day (Teen Mom). The show truly portrays how frustrating and difficult it can be to be a teen mom to a degree. In some ways, you can never know. Reality television is rarely real. “I think it has both positive and negative effects. I watch these shows and I can relate to some of the girls. I think its positive in some ways because it shows real life stories and lets girls know that teen pregnancy is no joke. However, I just hope girls aren’t trying to get pregnant to get on t.v. or think to themselves “its not that bad” because you don’t know until you’ve lived the life yourself.” said teen mom Sarah Wilhelm to the Candie’s Foundation on the topic of how MTV portrays teen pregnancy (The Candies Foundation).

Whether the shows and media present a good or bad image or influence on teenagers throughout America, another perspective can be found on them. The fact of the matter is that despite our nation’s efforts to educate the youth of America on the consequences of sex, the education won’t affect teenagers as much as the media. “The only things I really know about teen pregnancy, I’ve learned from watching the MTV shows. Online Health didn’t teach me a thing, did it teach anybody anything?” said sophomore student of Pleasant Valley High School, Haylee Schimmel.

However, whether students are educated or not, teenage pregnancy is still going to happen. The main goal at this point in time is to take steps to further the decrease in teenage pregnancies. Luckily, through education, teachers, companies, and campaigns, this is happening.

Interviewing for the Next Big Part of My Life

For the past few years of my life I have found myself incredibly interested and intrigued by the thought of studying abroad. Having grown up in the small town of Chico with goals exceeding what this small town can offer me, I am always looking for the next opportunity to push me towards success.

Looking at the world through journalistic eyes and being the outgoing, confident, able-to-hold-a-conversation-with-anybody person that I am, I am constantly discussing opinions and events with various people. Learning about people’s ideas and broadening my knowledge on the world has only further sparked my interest in looking at the world from a new perspective.

These interests lead me to investigate various student exchange programs before stumbling upon the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX). This is a youth exchange program between Germany and the USA, hoping to instill a deeper understanding of each other’s cultures and erasing prejudices. They figured that the best place to start was with the youth of today’s world. This exact program is for a year long study abroad in Germany, 10 full months away from everybody you know while being fully immersed in the German culture and language.

I began the application process towards the end of November, submitting my written application towards the end of January. I was quickly notified of my acceptance as a semi-finalist. Today, I completed the next step in the process – an interview in front of a panel of people involved in the program as well as a German exchange student who is here for the school year.

We begin the day with a small orientation and quickly moved into a group activity. As I began to talk to some of the other applicants I realized that I was up against some strong competition. I really enjoyed meeting these people with such similar personalities to me and if I happen to be chosen I hope to meet more people like them.

After the group activities we were notified of the individual interview schedule. Mine wasn’t to be until 2:30 pm and it was only 10:00 am at this point in time. My mom and sister and I had some time to kill, so we spent a good few hours eating breakfast, shopping, and preparing myself for my interview even further. The night before my amazing, knowledgeable, 25-year-old-man-stuck-in-a-17-year-old-boy’s-body friend helped me to come up with solid interview answers. He helped me find a common thread in what I want to do with my life and to find answers that were honest and what the interviewers would want to hear. Doing this I came up with some of the following answers, which will give you a better idea of why I want to participate in this program.

Tell us about yourself.

When I think of myself I think of my determination, passion and the fact that I am both serious and driven towards success as well as witty, humorous, and outgoing. I think of the backbone of my formative years – my large family and incredibly outgoing parents. With their support I have learned that to achieve something, I have to give it my all. I will have to fight for it and I am willing to do that. Next to their support, the greatest thing my parents have given me is knowledge, poise, and the ability to carry an enjoyable person with just about anybody. With both inspiring family members and strong friends, I have learned the value of relationships. I have a strong sense of self, an excitement for the future and the actualization of my idea of who I want to be. However, I think that my relationships are synonymous with my identity, attributes of the people that inspire me and the person I aspire to be are braided together, at some point they converge in my mind. Through having such strong relationships throughout my life has caused me to wish to bring people and ideas across the world together. I think that just about every person can have a valid opinion on something they are passionate about. Hearing the multitude of opinions from people in my life has sparked an interest in me to learn more from other people. Perspective has a lot to do with these things, and traveling across the globe is perspective if I’ve ever seen it.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years I see myself as a dedicated, involved student attending NYU and majoring in International Business. After I graduate, I don’t know where I will end up living or what company I will work for but I hope to be making a difference. I think about the innovative companies that will be around in a few years. Using business skills coupled with journalism will give me abilities to spread ideas that can change lives. 

What is an extracurricular you are involved in? Why? How does it help you?

Choice 1

I was the child that either couldn’t or chose to never stop reading. Mixed in with the books and street signs were the swirling covers of the daily newspaper on my doorstep each morning. While the books and street signs were words I seemed to be encouraged to read, the newspaper was different. As a young child, I might pick it up only to have my parents coerce me to not read the headline or article. I assume they only wanted to protect me from the news of real world incidents, especially as a young child. I distinctly remember a day when I came upon a newspaper that had been left out, and with no parent over my shoulder I began reading. Within seconds, the harsh reality of the lead story coupled with a few necessary inferences, lead me to the conclusion that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. My seven year old self immediately realized that my parents had been right, I didn’t want to know this! This was the one event in which I benefited from not living in a more eventful city.

From then, despite the crushing news, newspapers only became more intriguing to me. With the truth of Santa exposed, I figured there wasn’t much else my parents could be hiding from me about the real world. If only that were true.

Entering high school, I discovered the possibility of not only being a reader of news, but a writer of it. I joined the school newspaper partway through my freshman year and began writing articles about things ranging from global events to the latest happenings on campus. As I wrote, I felt closer to the events around me and I realized that knowledge empowers. With new found information on events affecting communities on global, national, and local levels I began to form opinions on more than the small bubble of things affecting my personal life.

Interviews provided insight to the events and people related and give me a deeper understanding and interviews with students gave me a plethora of opinions to explore. As I interviewed people around campus I was given the ability to educate them on relevant topics as well as validate their opinions and my own. Carrying out conversations, I found myself having the ability to discuss items of importance with my peers and I liked it.

The credible, intriguing thoughts and opinions of the people around me further reiterated my aspirations to bring the ideas of people throughout the world together and to gain perspective on the events that take place each day.

Choice 2

One of the programs I volunteer for is Girls on the Run, a running program for third through fifth grade girls that focuses on self esteem and other problems girls have to deal with in today’s world. They go through lessons focusing on confidence, acceptance, bullying problems, how to be a good friend, and giving back to the community. As a practice partner I show up to their practices as often as possible to assist the coach and run with the girls. I love running so I love being able to pass on that affinity for the sport to younger girls through an incredible program. As I run with each girl they are able to unwind, converse with me, and work through problems or situations that may be taking place in their life. These conversations, along with the confidence building and acceptance that the program instills in these girls really shows as they grow and change over the 12 week program. In addition to the advice and help I am able to bequeath to them, I am again able to reach out them and see this innocent, young, eager outlook on the world. At such an early age these girls are accepting, unique, understanding and empathetic. These groups of elementary schoolers happen to have a better grasp on how you stay at peace with someone than most grown people in today’s world. Each girl is unique, and they embrace that. As they enter their junior high years, it’s inspiring to me to know that the participants through this program will continue to have an affinity for their individuality and acceptance for everybody.

However, as luck would have it, the interview questions were completely different than what I had expected. They were based on different situations I might find myself in and how to deal with them, as well as testing my flexibility and motives for why I want to go, and asking why they should accept me over others. While these weren’t exactly what I had prepared for, I found that through the process of, essentially, discovering myself, I was able to confidently answer each question. I stumbled a bit, but then again I know that I am my own worst critic and a resounding truth seems to tell me that I did well. For one, I happened to see one interviewer giving me full marks in every category on her score sheet!

However, almost every teen that I am up against right now seems to be a solid contender so I can’t be sure of the outcome. I will find out for sure by March 15 and keep you posted!

 

Holy Moscow! The Meteor that Hit Russia

On Friday, February 15 the explosion of a meteorite above central Russia brought a flash of light to the dark morning. Shock and confusion swept across the one million people living in the city of Chelyabinsk and around 1,100 of these people were left injured. The meteorite, weighing an estimated 7,000 tons, streaked across the Siberian sky leaving a white trail visible to those up to 124 miles away. It entered earth’s atmosphere going at a hypersonic speed around 33,000 miles per hour and continued hurtling towards land at an increased speed of 40,000 miles per hour. The fireball streaked across the sky, its white trail visible to those almost 125 miles away, before exploding around 19 miles above the town of . The fireball sent towards Russia created a massive sonic boom, and exploded with the force of 20 atomic bombs. The sonic boom caused windows to shatter, car alarms to be set off, and cell phone networks to be disrupted.

Residents of Chelyabinsk reported driving to work in the dark, and suddenly having the entire early morning sky light up with the flash of the meteorite. People were confused and injured. Over a million square feet of glass was blown in from building windows and 3,000 buildings were damaged. Almost all of the injuries pertained to the glass and 48 of the injured people were hospitalized. Luckily, no deaths took place.

Another rather lucky circumstance of the event was the location of the explosion. Being only 60 miles from a Mayak nuclear storage and waste facility that contains large amounts of plutonium. If the fireball’s position had differed less than 100 miles it could have resulted in a much larger disaster.

Coincidentally, just hours before the boom, the largest meteor strike in the past century occurred as a 150 foot asteroid passed by Earth, coming within 17,000 miles of the atmosphere. However, experts have deduced that there is no connection between the asteroid and meteorite.

 

How I Deal With the Unnecessary Drama of a High School Life

After an atypical, high-school-drama-ridden day, I decided to write about what I generally do to relax after a stress filled day, or week, or any length of unbearably frustrating time.

Today, the problem was boys and betrayals and both came almost completely unrelated to the other. My friends are almost always easy going and I almost never face any sorts of problems that your average high school girl does. Today, was very, very different.

I knew it wasn’t destined to be a good Monday. Then again, are Mondays ever?

To deal with everything going on I started with a possibly rash, but needed confrontation. This, luckily, brought about apologies and less drama rather than more.

I then proceeded to reread a girly novel that has a magical ability to make me feel better at any time before proceeding with my day.

Later today I met up with my best friend, because who doesn’t need girl talk in the midst of drama ( not to mention some much needed Chem review) with the one person you know you can trust? We followed this with a short episode of Parks and Recreation because Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson can make the worst of days so much better!

Now, I happen to be catching up on assignments to raise grades, with the ever looming pressure to succeed hanging over my head. However, for others facing dramatic, stressful situations, I recommend long baths, stress eating various forms of chocolate, and watching old episodes of The Office and Parks and Recreation that can be found on Netflix and Hulu.

Barnaby Collins

tellthisstory

For my blog today I will be telling the story of the above picture. This is because I was looking at a website of really wonderful writing prompts when I came across this one. This picture really speaks to me and I have absolutely no idea why. I haven’t done creative writing since 6th grade English and you could take this in countless directions so let’s see where I have the story go.

Barnaby Collins is a 73 year and 364 day old man with a beautiful home, a complicated story, some sewing skills from his 7th grade Home Economics class and a phobia of turning 74 without leaving legacy as a 73 year old.  Today is the morning of the eve of his 74th birthday, October 17th. As his alarm clock rang he simply morphed the sound into that of a motorcycle, the motorcycle in his dream to be more specific. He imagined his Legacy Number 21; it had been great and each year they continued to get greater.  And then, like every Birthday Eve, he awoke with a jolt.

He stiffly climbed out of bed, eased into his housecoat, shuffled out the door to grab the Sunday paper, and shuffled back to his kitchen counter. As he began reading of the latest Chicago murder he casually checked the date in the far left corner. To his astonishment, the day read to be October 16th, so close to the day he feared. As he aged he began to find that he easily let the days slip away from him, and ever since Mae passed away in August he had been even more of a recluse than ever before.

The worst part of it all was that he had had over 350 days to prepare for this day, 350 24 hours segments to prepare for a few epic hours that would save him from his worst fear. As he paced through his house he ran through ever Legacy he had ever done, from the time he toilet papered the Statue of Liberty to the time he saved a large group of people from the burning Lincoln Hotel to the time he changed all of the ads on billboards to incredibly nice yet bizarre ads. It wasn’t that he loved to draw attention to himself, it was that he was deathly afraid of going a year with nothing to say for it. These actions were for himself to know he could change lives, inspire people, and make them laugh.

And as he thought about the underlying goal in his Legacies he simultaneously caught sight of his several pairs of stretchy blue plastic dish washing gloves. In less than 5 minutes his home economics side began to shine through and a few hours later, so did the hero inside of him. With a blue superhero suit and mask he knew what he wanted to do before the age of 74 came over him. He wanted to restore hope in every child in Chicago, he was going to be a superhero.

He changed into the suit and came to be sitting here, at his breakfast nook. With a newly drawn out plan to show Chicago that heroes do exist he peels an orange because in ever he has ever read, no hero has ever been short on their vitamin C.