Although teen pregnancy is often fairly unintentional, it is sometimes the result of a logically reasoned train of thought. Many teens living in poverty feel that their lives are boring and hopeless, and that the options for adulthood with which they are presented are either unrealistic or extremely limiting. Raising a child is a worthwhile thing to do, which will allow them to have some modicum of influence over the future of the world in which they live.
As noted earlier, almost a third of Baltimore’s children (under 18) live below the poverty line. Combined with how expensive early child care is, this means that households with infants need to find internal solutions for child care. Any family with infants where the adults must work full time to afford basic necessities and can not make enough to afford infant care must find someone to stay with their infant while they work. More than half of grandparents in Baltimore provide child care for their grandchildren, according to the 2000 Census,  but many families are not so lucky as to have an adult who doesn’t need to work available to provide care. The responsibility then often falls to teens.
Although teens are required by law to be in school, it is understandable that a working parent would rather keep their teenage child or sibling out of school than have their entire family end up homeless.
It is important to note that most of these families do place high value on education. However, the schools these young people attend are embarrassingly neglected,  and many spend more time policing the children than teaching them.  It is understandable that sending a child to a school like this does not outweigh having a home for one’s family.
Leaving an untrained teenager at home with an infant is not a recipe for great growth for either of the children involved. A safe, nurturing environment, where the potentials of both young people may flourish and they may be coaxed gently into positive modes of interaction with each other and with the world will benefit society well into the future, since so much vital development happens in the first three years of life.
According to a study released in March of last year in the Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “being born to a teen mother…is associated with poorer educational achievement, life satisfaction, and personal income.”  This fact is corroborated by the Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics 19th Edition , also released last year. The Nelson textbook, however, stipulates that “comprehensive programs focused on supporting adolescent mothers and infants utilizing life skills training, medical care, and psychosocial support demonstrate, at least in the short term, higher employment rates, higher income, and less welfare dependency…”
By providing a nurturing, non-judgmental environment for teen parents and caregivers to bring their infant charges, we can raise the quality of life for both of the young people— child and parent— as well as for their extended families. The Ulimacho huvunacho MicroSchool will have a full time staff of trained early childcare professionals, interns, and volunteers who can give personalized attention to each baby. This will free the minds of the students, who will know that their children are safe and nearby.
Horizonal structures require members not to judge each other for their decisions, but rather to actively cooperate to help all parties make the best decisions for themselves and the group. Non-judgmental is not to be understood to mean permissive. Teens today are faced with many difficult decisions, some with life altering or life threatening consequences. Through group therapy sessions, group decision making processes, and the opportunities for one-on-one time with teachers and the holistic health counselor, the teens will be guided towards accountability for their actions, age-appropriate risk management, and strategies for speaking their truths. This will help build self-confidence and trust.
1. Hamilton, B. Ph.D. and Ventura, S. M.A. (April 2012). NCHS Data Brief: Birth Rates for U.S. Teenagers Reach Historic Lows for All Age and Ethnic Groups [Data Brief]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention— Publications and Information Products. Num. 89. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db89.htm
2. Infoplease. (2000) Census Data. Social Statistics: Baltimore, Maryland. [Data File] Retrieved September 11, 2012 from http://www.infoplease.com/us/census/data/maryland/baltimore/social.html
3. Transform Baltimore (2012) The Problem (Web site) Retrieved November 3, 2012 from http://www.transformbaltimore.org/learn/problem
4. ACLU. (2012) School-to-Prison Pipeline (Web site) Retrieved November 3, 2012 from http://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/school-prison-pipeline
5. Lipman, E.L. Et Al. (March 2011). “Young adult outcomes of children born to teen mothers: effects of being born during their teen or later years.” Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 50(3):232-241. e4. EPub 2011 Jan 26.
6. Kliegman Et Al. (2011). “Chapter 112: Adolescent Pregnancy.” In Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th Ed. [Text Book](P.107.) Philadelphia: Elsevier.