Teen pregnancy is one of those issues that will never be easy to talk about. And while MTV's groundbreaking series, 16 and Pregnant, has been credited for a drop in teenage pregnancy rates, it hasn't made us all that more open, as a nation, to this difficult problem — made even more complicated by a myriad of both social and economic factors, and the fact that representatives of both political parties like to cite examples and figures for the advancement of their own larger causes. Too often, we forget that at heart, this isn't just a political problem or a statistic, it's an obstacle in the everyday lives of real people. One Oregon teen recognized this and used her high school senior project as a platform to discuss it in a very poignant way.
What Maria Miranda did was a risk. She decided to, with the support of a close circle of friends and a few of her teachers, fake a pregnancy and record the reactions. She even posted fake sonograms on Facebook. And while people were often quick to congratulate her online, in real life she found that her classmates — even those whom she considered fairly close friends — avoided eye contact and stared at her fake belly in the hallways. One teacher even said, when she entered the room, "Oh great. A child having a child."
The CDC reports that teen parents are more likely to drop out of high school, and more likely to be unemployed as adults. We're not arguing with that. But we do think it's important to treat these young girls with respect and an open mind, because that's the only way they can avoid the aforementioned problems linked to teen pregnancy. If they don't get the support they need, both socially and economically, we're setting them up for a lifetime of struggle, based on one (albeit significant) event in their lives — and, in turn, their children, who will grow up without the support they need (the CDC also states that children of teen parents have a higher rate of incarceration). Whether it means talking to teens about safe sex, abortion, and adoption, or allowing them to go through with pregnancies and child-rearing without debilitating social stigma, it's only by facing the problem head-on and not letting prejudice taint our treatment of young, vulnerable humans that we can make the best of a tough situation. (Mommyish)
This isn't the first time it's been done — Gaby Rodriguez did the same experiment, and got a lot of press for it, a few years back. But this is further proof of the conclusions Ms. Rodriguez made. What do you think of Maria's project? Are you shocked to read about the kind of discrimination she faced?
Photo: Via Oregon Live.