Too many young moms in the Bronx

Posted on 05. Dec, 2009 by in Uncategorized

I was up in the Bronx yesterday talking to two 17-year-old mothers. Both girls started taking parenting classes with a group called the Bronx Teen Parenting program over a year ago. The service is excellent and really should be expanded through the borough, considering it has consistently had the highest teen pregnancy rates in NYC for the past 15 years. In 2007 the pregnancy rate was 127 per 1000 girls as opposed to New York State which averages 67 per 1000 according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.They teach girls like Samantha and Elimarie, even small techniques like how to properly hold their babies, how to feed the kids, proper nutrition, as well as giving them coupons for baby products. Through the parenting program both young mothers are being helped to return to high school. Accordingly, the South Bronx also hosts a 70 percent drop out rate, partly due to the large number of young parents who are unable to handle parenting and school simultaneously.
I was happy to hear that both girls are on their way back to school and to learn that their parenting classes have helped them raise three healthy kids. The classes all seemed like a step in the right direction. Elimarie is hoping to get through two more years of high school and on to college someday. Samantha is about to finish her first semester of tenth grade.
As positive as this all seemed to me, I was disappointed when I learned that the parenting program is still bound by abstinence-only education. And I thought, “What’s the point of teaching abstinence-only to teens in parenting classes? Clearly they have failed to abstain.”
I wondered this allowed to the director of the program, who only rolled her eyes, and mumbled, “yup.”
Earlier this year when Obama announced the 2010 budget, he made significant cuts in abstinence-only education programs. In total he proposed $164 million in teen pregnancy prevention, only 25% of which would go towards abstinence programs. Federal funding in the Bush years went mainly towards abstinence-only programs, as conservatives argued that teaching pregnancy prevention to teens only promoted teen sex.
It has only been six months since Obama allotted all those millions towards Teen pregnancy prevention programs. In the Bronx they are direly needed. There are plenty of organizations reaching out towards teens like Samantha and Elimarie to help them get back to school and to teach them how to care for their kids. NY Foundling and Inwood House are two wonderful non-profits that have helped many young mothers. It’s necessary and dozens of young mothers have greatly benefited from these classes and programs. But the Bronx is in need of programs that will reach out to these girls before they become mothers. The rates speak loud and clear, this continues to be a problem. Sure teach them how to be good parents, but tackle the problem before it continues growing.

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2 Responses to “Too many young moms in the Bronx”

  1. Sarah

    16. Dec, 2009

    We have teenage pregnancy problems in many deprived areas in th U.K. however we take a more pragmatic approach. Rather than try and modify the behaviour by teaching abstinence we try and teach young adults about the responsible use of contraception. Unfortunately some young people see pregnancy as a route to free social housing and a lifetime on governement benefits

  2. miley

    05. Sep, 2010

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