Approximately 1 million teenage girls become pregnant each year in the United States, accounting for 13 percent of all U.S. births. Children born to teen moms are at risk to suffer health, social and emotional problems. Teen mothers are more likely to drop out of school, make less money and face increased rates of alcohol and substance abuse.
Caitlin Goodman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Capital Area
joins Sheila Hyland to talk about teen pregnancy prevention, and efforts to empower girls and boys with resources to build positive futures.
Hyland: Teen birth rates have declined over the past 25 years, yet teenage pregnancy rates remain high. About 1 million teenage girls become pregnant each year in the United States, amounting to 13 percent of all US births. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I´m Sheila Hyland. With me to talk about teen-pregnancy prevention and empowering girls and boys with resources to build positive futures is Caiti Goodman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the National Capital Area. Caiti, thank you so much, and welcome to the program.
Goodman: Thank you for having me, Sheila.
Hyland: What are the broader implications and the consequences of teenage pregnancy in America? Why should we all care about this issue?
Goodman: I think we should care because these kids end up dropping out of school, which means that they don´t graduate, which means they can´t get a job, and then that also affects their child in the end, who ends up following suit, and it becomes a cycle that these kids can´t break and why we end up seeing our poverty level rise.
Hyland: So there are number of ripple effects, obviously. The health of the children can also be affected, too, of these teenage mothers.
Goodman: Absolutely. Low weight is a big problem for these kids of young mothers, which has huge complications down the road because of that, not to mention that these mothers also have complications giving birth. So it becomes a bit of a cycle, a bit of a problem for them, and not to mention the mental- health issues that go with that.
Hyland: And we´re also talking about girls, too, who have repeat pregnancies and sometimes repeat births, as well.
Goodman: Yes, indeed. I mean, so far, we´re trying to prevent that and hope that, you know, with one kid, that they may see the light and not do it again, but, you know, we do have girls who continuously get pregnant before the age of 19.
Hyland: There is so much pressure on kids, of course, and pressure to have sex, as well. How do you address that at Big Brothers Big Sisters with your prevention program?
Goodman: Well, a lot of these kids feel like they don´t have a voice, like they are doing this to feel accepted in the community, accepted with their friends. They don´t feel like they can speak out and say no when they need to, and what the Building Positive Futures Teen Pregnancy Prevention program at Big Brothers Big Sisters does is create a -- on top of having a mentor match, a one-to-one mentor match, we offer this program curriculum once a week that gives them all the information they need to feel empowered, to have this voice, to practice safe sex or to abstain, and to also talk to their mentor about things that are happening in their life so that they can be successful, productive adults.
Hyland: And this just isn´t aimed at teenage girls but teenage boys, as well. And so often, teenage fathers are just left out of the conversation.
Goodman: Right, and a lot of these families feel like, if their son got a girl pregnant, that it´s not their son´s responsibility. And I think what this program, Be Ready, Be Responsible, does is teach these boys to be responsible members of the community, to be responsible with their friends, to be kind, and to also learn to feel empowered, you know, in their community with these women, to also say no, because a lot of these boys, you know, get pressure on the other end and feel like they have to have sex, and then they do it, not knowing that they can have safe sex, and then be part of this child´s life if need be.
Hyland: And I think you hit the nail on the head, too. You are empowering teenagers with your message from Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Hyland: Caiti Goodman, thank you so much for being our guest today on "Comcast Newsmakers."
Goodman: Thank you so much, Sheila.
Hyland: And thank you for joining us, as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I´m Sheila Hyland.