Had Bristol Palin's mother not have been selected as the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee, the issue of teen sexuality would not be getting much exposure this week. But, following on the heels of a year which we've seen the issue raised numerous times (Jamie Lynn Spears, Juno, the Gloucester high school "pact" story), here we go again...
Teen pregnancy, an issue once relegated to the shadowy corners of our society, is today part of the fabric of American youth culture. According to the most recent research, it's estimated that one-third of American teen girls will become pregnant by the time they reach the age of 20. The good news is that culturally, we've improved how we deal with adolescent girls and families that journey through this experience. I also believe the church (generally) deals with the issue much better than we did in the past. Still, teen pregnancy is a complex issue with societal implications that needs to be addressed. See the excerpt from the editorial article below that notes some of these implications.
AAt HomeWord, we believe that the best prevention against teen pregnancy begins with parents engaging their kids, early-on in life, to begin the process of equipping and educating them, giving them the tools to build a healthy and God-honoring sexuality. For some help in this area, read the article "Five Keys for Teaching Kids Healthy Sexuality." Also, this year, Jim Burns has published the first books in his Pure Foundations series that gives parents, pre-teens and teens some very practical content in this key area of sexuality. To check out these materials, click here.
Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, all agree on one point: The pregnancy of 17-year-old Bristol Palin does not reflect upon the ability of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to serve as vice president. As the democratic nominee, Barack Obama, said, politicians' families, particularly their children, are "off limits."
But while the pregnancy of one unmarried Alaskan teenager is a private family matter — Gov. Palin says her daughter plans to have the child and marry the father — teen pregnancy is an issue that should be of huge national concern.
While some children of teen mothers — Obama, for instance — become very successful, teen pregnancy has a high correlation with poor education, lifelong poverty, no health insurance and limited opportunities for both mother and child.
Teen pregnancy, which must be dealt with by many families and congregations every day, levies a large cost on society. The CDC estimates Americans spend more than $9 billion a year on deliveries and child care for unwed teen mothers. Because many children of teen mothers do less well in life than other children, they contribute to higher costs for law enforcement, prison and emergency care.
For loving and supporting families, teen pregnancy is a private matter that follows the failure of schools and parents to teach children about avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.