(Inhale…Exhale…) Where do I begin? I am horrified!
First of all I should disclose that as a second year PhD student of Social Psychology, I consider myself to be a researcher. I speak at conferences and colleges and yes, I often cite the statistic that children born to teen parents are less likely to graduate, more likely to be teen parents and male children are more likely to serve jail time. Unfortunately, those numbers are correct.However, when I communicate those statistic my message is one of awareness and education NOT shame!
The Teen Pregnancy Media Campaign in New York City that shows a child, who is crying, with the message that “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen”, in my opinion, is full of SHAME and BLAME. In my experience these kinds of statistics without the proper explanation causes confusion, anger, and hopelessness. Maybe a few teens will see it and think to themselves “wow, that’s something to consider”, but many will think it’s a false scare tactic, they will question “why” or “how” is this true, and even more will think it’s not true and ignore it completely. I’ve had rooms full of college students (as recent as last week) who didn’t understand why this could be.
Alternatively, we have pregnant and parenting teens that will see this add, and will have questions about it. Who is offering the answers to those questions? Who is providing the support to those young parents? Who will explain that just because there is an increased risk, there are things you can do as a parent to prevent it?
Well, I know that I will be here to provide that support to all who need it. Let me start with the following suggestions.
1) Make sure you finish high school and go to college. Children whose parents finish high school and go to college are more likely finish high school and go to college as well.
2) Read to your children every night & talk to them all the time. Children who receive more cognitive stimulation enter pre-school more prepared than other children and that advantage will stay with them.
3) Be involved with your child’s education. Show them that education is important by sending them to school every day, on time, and attend all parent/teacher conferences, school concerts, and volunteer at the school when you can.
4) Stay involved through the end. Many parents stop being involved in their child’s education when the child gets to middle school and have almost no involvement in high school. This is a huge mistake, especially for teen parent families.
These steps are just a few things that ALL PARENTS can do to help their child be successful in school.
NOTE: I am writing this blog post from my son’s high school. He is 15 in 10th grade. I found out he was skipping classes so I decided to spend the day here with him to make sure he’s not getting lost in the halls. I had him when I was 15 years old. I walk the walk!