Teen mothers shouldn't drop out of school
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 1:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 1:57 p.m.
In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to meet five pregnant teenage girls and mothers. I was struck by the different paths they chose for their futures. Two of the girls I met have decided to stay in school along with a young teenage mother who is also in school. These three girls seem to share the same goal, and that is to earn a high school diploma.
On the other hand, two other pregnant girls I met a couple of days ago decided that dropping out of school was best for them, and they have no desire to return to school. In the short time I spent with them trying to convince them to return to school, I saw little interest.
They were accepting of their situation and expressed shallow reasons for not returning. Several thoughts went through my head as I spoke to these girls. Will she get the support she needs from the father of the child? What kind of life will the child have? And why is education not a priority? There were so many unanswered questions for me.
I wish to acknowledge that in no way am I passing judgment on these girls and their circumstances. Many of us have faced situations that altered our paths and which may have resulted in putting our education on hold.
All five of these young girls seem to be bright, beautiful, healthy and caring individuals. Nothing about them would suggest that they could not have a successful, productive life. However, the two girls who were not in school do not seem to have a plan, other than depending on the support of their moms and grandmothers.
In this article I clearly want to emphasize that opportunities for furthering one's education are available for young mothers and pregnant teenage girls. These girls must understand that there is life beyond their circumstances of motherhood.
Education can continue even while they are raising a child. The path to a better life is through education, and there are so many ways they can achieve their goals. The key is not to give up.
In Alachua County we have the Accept Program, which allows young pregnant girls to continue their education. This program is part of the Loften Center High school. Their emphasis is geared toward a strong academic curriculum and preparing young girls for their new roles as mothers.
The school's program helps young girls focus on getting a diploma and prepares them for college eligibility and career tech programs. These programs will provide opportunities for employment. So there are career path classes that will meet the needs of these students. Again, the key is to stay in school and not give up.
In this article I dare not speak on the morality of a girl's decision to get pregnant, but I will address the matter that there are consequences. I'm sure by now these young mothers-to-be and teenage mothers know that having a child is a full-time responsibility that requires constant care. With this in mind it is very hard to juggle school and provide care for their young child at the same time.
At the Loften Center there is a child care center for students attending Loften so they can continue their education. Every person should know by now that knowledge is power, and it is greatly needed by young pregnant teenage girls and mothers more so than their counterparts
It is imperative in this day and age that our young teenage mothers be able to find the resources they need to care for their young children. This is where education is vital.
I have known so many young girls who found themselves in a parental role at an early age who completed the Loften Program and are doing well. It takes discipline, courage and motivation to see a dream come true. I believe the girls who find themselves in these circumstances can fulfill their dreams and aspirations with the right amount of determination and guidance.
If you are one of these girls who have dropped out of school and are facing motherhood, allow me to encourage you to go back to school. It may be a challenge for you, but it is worth the effort.
In addition, it would be wise and prudent for teenage girls to practice birth control or abstinence to avoid compromising their dreams and goals. The responsibility of raising children can be an obstacle for teenage mothers to achieve success.
For the upcoming semester and school year, I would ask these young teenagers to find a way back to enter the doors of a school.
Enjoy the holidays and always love your children.
Philoron A. Wright Sr. is assistant to the superintendent of community and schools for Alachua County Public Schools.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.