As a teenager, if we see something enough on social media, we’ll start to believe it’s true. When people ask the same question over and over without knowing any factual information, they might unintentionally circulate foolish rumors.
One of these uninformed questions has become, “Why are there so many pregnant girls at Cedar?”
I have heard and seen this question many times throughout the school year, and I have unfortunately witnessed people unwittingly accept it as a fact.
The reality is that only two teen moms are currently enrolled and attend Cedar Shoals High School. In comparison to 2010, the numbers have improved. In 2010, the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that Clarke County had a teen birth rate of 100 births per 1,000 15-19 year-olds.
The pregnancy rate at Cedar alone has dropped tremendously over the years, and the current birth rate amongst teenagers in Clarke County is also much lower. According to the Cedar Shoals counseling office, less than 1% of the females that attend Cedar Shoals High School are pregnant or teen parents. So the implication of asking “why?” here perpetuates a myth.
Another question that I have also heard is, “Why are all these young girls who have access to places like Teen Matters (located across the street from the school) not being safe?” This question is full of assumptions that are simply unfair. This question may be asked out of judgment before understanding any said young girl’s situation.
In health class, it is a national requirement for students to be educated on safe sex, yet we still have teen moms at our school. not all teens being ok with asking questions about sex.
At home, some are not able or comfortable with talking with their parents about sex. They don’t feel like they have that support system and line of communication with their parents. So they aren’t educated on what “one time” or “a mistake” can cause.
In school, students are taught about sex and sexually transmitted diseases by teachers who want to give the sex talk to immature and busy-bodied teenagers. This situation can be pretty awkward, and students may develop some resistance in actually processing such important information.
Some girls have given birth and come right back to school. Others are still expecting and attending class daily. Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school dropout rates among girls. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 40 percent of teen mothers finish high school. So what does that say for us?
At Cedar, the majority of teen moms do graduate. Cedar has a group in place that helps our teen moms be better parents and help them to graduate on time. They meet once a month and further educate the young women as they go throughout their pregnancies and the first moments of their children’s lives. This program not only helps with academic success but also one’s emotional well-being as a student and a parent.
The arrival of Teen Matters in 2008 allowed students to access effective birth control, condoms, advice about dating and relationships, pregnancy testing, sexually transmitted infections tests and treatments, decision-making skills, and health education. Furthermore, the FLASH sex education curriculum focuses on preventing sexual violence, STDs, and pregnancy. Without information outlets like these, teens could be left with unanswered questions and misunderstandings. It only takes one time to get an STD, and it only takes one time to get pregnant.
So instead of asking questions that attempt to place all of the blame on teenagers who can’t always be perfect, perhaps we should ask the real question: why isn’t sex brought up sooner? Some freshmen are not able to take health during their 9th-grade year, so they don’t get that information until later on — maybe even too late.
Cedar Shoals does not have a teen pregnancy epidemic. Rather, we simply have a group of young ladies with more responsibilities than the common student, and they do a great job coping with both. Let’s support them instead of judging them.