Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ABC Primetime "Family Secrets" reports on teen pregnancy

Last night, Tuesday, June 23, 2009, ABC Primetime instantiated its new series “Family Secrets” with an episode about teenage pregnancy. The associated news story is “nside the Lives of Children Having Children: 'Primetime' Explores Realities of Teen Pregnancy Through Day-to-Day Lives of Four Families”. The host is Jay Schadler, and the main news story is here.

The show focused on the ocean New England town of Gloucester, MA, normally thought of as the belonging to the heart of the liberal northeast (a home of famed journalist Sebastian Junger), not a place we would associate with a “scandal” involving teen pregnancy. Yet, last year, there were sensational news reports of “pacts” among kids to have children.

The program focused on a few families, with emphasis on the effect on teen fathers as well as mothers. One boy watches his girl friend graduate from high school while a mother while his is on hold to support another human being. The program compared sex education in Massachusetts, with graphical instruction on condoms, to Texas, with emphasis on abstinence. The program also showed the one abortion clinic in Kentucky, with teenage girls running a gauntlet to visit the place in Louisville. There as also a program for teen mothers called a “twelve step program.”

When I substitute taught, school systems usually put teen mothers into alternative high schools, and expectant mothers or new mothers had even other special facilities (“Family”) where they could lactate at school and were taught a curriculum in a sometimes less formal setting.

It’s important to remember that in some families teens have responsibilities that they did not create. Sometimes they have dropped out of school or gone to work when parents have been laid off or become unable to work, as in the film “October Sky.” Eldercare can cause burdens that were not created by “choices.” This needs to be kept in perspective.

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