Teen pregnancy

Although the issue of teen pregnancy may be familiar to many, few actually know about the tremendous obstacles teen parents and their children face, the stigmas associated with teen pregnancy and the need for greater support. Here are some reasons to why this topic is of such great importance, and why we need to value reproductive health and education when related to such a multifaceted issue.

The impact of teen pregnancy is universally gigantic. It is estimated that 16 million girls under the age of 18 are giving birth each year. And the thought of so many young people, parents, at risk and unable to adequately support themselves and their children is frightening. There are far too many young men and woman who are unsupported, marginalized and without hope. Together, however, we can create change, foster hope and become catalysts for change.

For me, one of the most inspirational projects that Childhood USA has been able to support and contribute crucial funds to is the Graduation, Reality And Dual-Role Skills (GRADS) Program, in Lawrence County, OH. GRADS is administered out of the Collins Career Center which supports teenage parents through vocational school and training, daycare, education; its mission is to promote personal growth, educational competence and economic self-sufficiency. This program allows for young parents opportunities for professional development, transitional help and assistance, technical training, and introductory courses in child rearing, psychology, and the importance of nutrition. Most poignantly, this program teaches resiliency, perseverance in the face of adversity, and self-belief.

At Childhood we believe in the importance of investing in youth by prioritizing education and empowerment, ensuring the strongest support systems for those most in need. "Safeguarding the rights of adolescents and youth and investing in their future is essential to their development and that of their families, communities and countries. Providing quality education, effective livelihood skills and access to sexual and reproductive health, including comprehensive sexuality education, will ensure that every young person’s potential is fulfilled.” Empowered individuals can help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and are far more resilient against social, economic and political challenges. These individuals are productive, engaged and committed in forward moving and long lasting change.

Ashlee Thomas
Columnist, Childhood USA