Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Cleans Up Nice
I know, Barak, families are off limits. The media should indeed spare the innocent offspring of candidates. No scrutiny. No judging. No labels.
But what about the fiction that is being concocted before our eyes, as Levi Johnston morphs from hot-blooded hockey teen to first family pawn. What is going on here?
"Just play nice and get married, kids."
"You can still get into good schools, we will take care of that for you."
"Put this ring on before the cameras arrive."
"Better get on a plane and meet Momma's new boss."
For most of the other unwanted pregnancies in this country, the outcome will not look so bright. No marriage. No sparkly ring. No makeover and White House trip. No school. No career. No cute Juno (odd coincidence, Alaska's capitol and hit film) type ending. No support. No nanny. No forgiveness.
And many teenage girls do indeed find themselves pregnant. According to The Guttmacher Institute, almost 750,000 teenage women aged 15–19 a year in this country.
For some reason, teen pregnancy rates are much higher in the United States than in many other developed countries--twice as high as in England and Wales or Canada, and nine times as high as in the Netherlands or Japan.
We cannot assume all teen pregnancies are unintended.
Some girls get pregnant to make their partners happy. Some girls carry the mistaken belief that the babies will give them love and nurturance. And some want to get pregnant because they see other girls in their social circles getting increased attention and what seems to them increased material benefit by being mothers.
But we can help those who don't want to get married or raise a child in poverty. They certainly need more help than we are offering.
According to the CDC, efforts to decrease unintended pregnancy include finding better forms of contraception, and increasing contraceptive use and adherence.
We should be able to at least talk to our children about these things. Sex is depicted so often in advertising and entertainment, yet consequences rarely.
A pregnancy changes lives, and not always for the best.
That said, blessings on the new family.