Maci, Farrah, Amber and Catelynn are only four of the 400,000-plus girls under 20 who had babies two years ago. While they allowed cameras into their homes and have lived their lives publicly, they are still just one small part of the population of teens who became parents before they were ready.
As you know, there are many statistics associated with taking on the responsibility of early motherhood, regardless of whether or not MTV is around to tell the story on “Teen Mom.” So let’s see how our girls measure up.
Children born to teen parents are susceptible to a number of social, economic and health risks, including higher rates of abuse and neglect and the likelihood of the child spending time in foster care. Though she’s loved and well cared for by her parents, Amber’s daughter Leah will continue to be involved with Child Protective Services because of the domestic violence between her parents. The state of Indiana, where Leah lives, considers it abuse if a child witnesses violence at home.
Parenthood is one of the leading reasons teen girls drop out of school. Less than half of teen girls who have a child before age 18 graduate from high school, and less than 2 percent of young teen mothers earn a college diploma before age 30. In terms of the show, Amber hasn’t gotten her GED yet, Maci graduated from high school but is struggling to balance college and motherhood, it’s taken Catelynn an extra year to make up all the classes she missed during her pregnancy and, while Farrah got her associate’s degree, she’s still working toward her bachelor’s.
One in four teen mothers has a second child within two years of the first. Maci thought about having a second child but later decided against it, and Amber had a pregnancy scare after Leah was born. Alternatively, Catelynn opted for a Mirena IUD (a great form of long-acting reversible birth control), so she won’t be getting pregnant anytime soon.
Eight out of 10 fathers don’t marry the teen mother of their baby. Maci and Ryan were engaged at one point, but that obviously didn’t last, and the same for Amber and Gary. Catelynn and Tyler got engaged after Carly was born and remain together, although it’s been a bumpy road.
While the four young women in “Teen Mom” have lived different lives, there’s one constant fact that echoes throughout both the show and among teen parents everywhere: They wish they would have waited until they were older to have children.
–Written by Amy Kramer of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
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