Teen Mom and What it Means

I don’t know why I’m writing about this. It’s not a topic I’ve ever cared about, but I just read this article and it got me interested in doing some more research:

CDC study: Many teen moms didn’t think they could get pregnant, didn’t use birth control

I’ve never seen an episode of Teen Mom or any of that other pap, so this isn’t some comment on how messed up the whole situation is, or how teens today are so stupid.

One sentence stuck out to me most in the article, and in classic journalism fashion, it was buried at the end (so that the casual reader will never see it):

“But it’s important to remember that the overall teen birth rate has been falling for some time, and recently hit its lowest mark in about 70 years.”

That’s right, 70 years.

Check it:

Please take the time to really look at that data. The blue line represents the teen birth rate (being compared to the overall birth rate). When was it the highest? In the 1950s, that magical era that is often meant when you hear the code words, “the good ol’ days.”
Now, look at this map of data from 2009, which represents teen pregnancy rates:

This comes from the State Health Facts site and I recommend you check it out to get the full breadth of the information available

All those heathen states along the coasts seem to trend lower. And in the south, where Jesus is still their co-pilot, well, they seem to like it bareback.

And then there is this information taken from US News and World Report:

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life says, on average, 71 percent of Americans believe in God. The most religious state is Mississippi, where 91 percent believe in God. The bottom 10:

1. Maine 59 percent believe in God.

2. Massachusetts 60%

3. Alaska 61%

4. California 62%

5. Nevada 63%

6. Colorado 63%

7. Oregon 63%

8. New York 64%

9. Washington 64%

10. New Jersey 66%

Let’s see if we can all do a little comparative analysis. Of all the states in the dark blue, how many of them are in the top 10 of the godless list?

Wait, did you say none? That can’t be right. Everyone knows when God is taken out of the schools and people stop giving Him His due, that’s when all things go to hell.

(By the way, that God-fearing state of Mississippi is one of the dark blue states, in case you missed it.)

What does this all mean? Absolutely nothing.

No, it doesn’t mean that being an atheist makes you a better person, or that you are better off living in a state that is less religious. It doesn’t prove that there is no God, or that Christians are hypocrites. It doesn’t even prove that atheists have less sex, or safer sex, or better sex. It doesn’t prove a damn thing.

And that’s the point. Because it also doesn’t prove the opposite.

The religious in this country often point to alarming statistics or tragic news stories and say, “See, this is what happens when you take God out of schools.” Now, besides the fact that I already wrote on how faulty the premise is, the point is, nothing happens when you take God out of schools. I don’t believe that secularization magically makes teen pregnancy rates go down, but it obviously doesn’t make them go up.

I believe in secularization because we are a secular nation. We are a secular world that just so happens to be inhabited by religious people. I can live with that. But religious faith has no place in setting public policy, and I think the trend of teen pregnancies is proof that a secular agenda that encourages sex education in public schools is working.

Personally, I would bet dollars to donuts that those teens in the CDC study (the original article above) who were unaware they could get pregnant are from religious families who don’t talk openly about sex. But even if that isn’t the case (and we’ll never know), at least we can focus on the good news. Teen pregnancy is declining, and has been for some time now.

But that doesn’t make as eye-catching a headline.

6 thoughts on “Teen Mom and What it Means

  1. I can’t believe I am taking the bait here, but as a previous teen mom from a Southern State who grew up with a Bible thumping momma, well, shit, what do I have to say . . . Scientifically our bodies are ready to breed when they are ready to breed and in many cultures people marry a lot younger and thus have babies a lot younger. Should probably check out the risks of breeding when you’re in your forties – it’s a bit scarier. I am not sure why this topic was at all of interest to you, except as another angle to poke at the religious folk. The bottom line is that breeding when your body is ready to breed has only become a problem since young people got lazy and stopped producing anything other than couch potatoes and neo-hipsters with serious problems (like does my ipod match my hoodie?). I still find it funny that at certain ages, people can go fight wars, be tried as adults when they commit crimes, but in other aspects they are looked at as not responsible for their own decisions. I say if you are old enough/responsible enough to drive a car or mix a grande mocha 15 times a day, then you’re old enough to raise a family. Some might argue that all this pussification of our youth is some sort of progressive thinking, but no matter what, in order for our species to survive (as of yet) breeding is still the best option, and doing it young is usually the safest way to do it. Pregnancy after age 35 is considered high risk.
    It’s not rocket science, it’s pretty simple – a machine – a car, a toaster, a television, a laptop always works better when it’s new. After a few years, a few spills or what have you, and the parts don’t work as well. You try to get a good product, but end up with burnt edges, radiator leaks, a fuzzy picture and the blue screen of death. Some shit in life just happens naturally and fucking is one of those things. The mechanisms for the survival of the species are built right into men and women – what makes it weird at all is the suppression of sex in the society, the idea that sex is something odd, something to be examined and analyzed and what suppresses sex is not religion, it’s psychobabble actually – I guarantee anyone with any weird perversion has been mentally worked over by someone who is crazy and has crazy ideas about sex. You might say that teens aren’t psychologically able to deal with making babies, raising babies, etc, and looking at the teens in our “progressive” society, I can see why you’d say that – most of them have no clue (and no job) but that doesn’t mean they don’t possess the ability – it’s just the way these kids are raised. Spoiled and ungrateful brats with their hands out like someone owes them something. And now I sound like an old conservative fart, so I am gonna stop – but you know it’s true. Try to be gentle on me alright?

    • Uh, I’m not honestly sure what you’re responding to, because I don’t think it’s my post.

      Whether or not teenagers are mentally/physically capable of bearing and caring for children is obviously irrelevant to the point at hand (from a biological point of view, if you can have a baby, you can have a baby, simple). In our society, though, teenagers aren’t really set up to be parents. This isn’t religion or secularism or anything else, it’s just the way we are, we educate our kids until they’re 18 (hopefully even 22) and don’t really offer many well paying jobs for those who choose not to go through with their full education. Again, it isn’t a question of biology or whether or not a teenager should be able to have a kid if they want, it’s just a fact that our society doesn’t make it easy for teen moms (especially because they are usually unmarried).

      Now, if you’re asking me, I say teenagers are too damn immature to have kids. I think everyone should wait until they’re in their early 30s and they should have only one kid. But that’s just me, and I’m not trying to create any sort of legislation to enforce that view.

      As far as the psychobabble stuff, that sounds like a vent against Freud, so you should maybe take that to somebody who thinks psychoanalysis of his sort has merit.

      Anyway, I again have no idea what you were responding to in the post I actually wrote, but if there was something specific I said that you found questionable, please point it out. Otherwise, I’d recommend giving the post a second read because I think maybe we didn’t cross paths on this one.

  2. Man, why does everyone hate hipsters nowadays? It’s like they blame all the world’s problems on them just because they dress nice.

    As for the old enough to drive/old enough to breed adage, good luck raising a family at 15 when you’re technically not even allowed to work in this country under child labor laws. I guess a lot of grown up parents think that they did their job just by bringing teenagers into the world who didn’t ask to be there, and any teen who thinks they are owed anything resembling a decent upbringing and a good base in life is a “Spoiled and ungrateful brats with their hands out like someone owes them something.” Well hey they’re 14, they know everything now, what will be will be, babies having babies. Lol.

  3. Nicole,

    You can actually work at age 13 – there are just some restrictions on what you can do and how long you can work, but most of the rules are lifted if you work for a family business. I’ve been working since I was 14, but that’s because I really wanted to. Some people don’t want or need to and that’s fine. BTW, nobody hates hipsters because they dress nice 🙂


    I think I was originally responding to the fact that you were associating teen pregnancy with being super religious and thus uneducated somehow, and your attempt to statistically back it up – I am sure it went into a tangent because I was tired as hell.

  4. 3 Things:
    1. Let’s dispense with the term hipster, because as I’ve already discussed in a previous post, I don’t know what it is, and I don’t think either one of you could define it better than, “A person who likes things that I don’t.”

    2. Yes, you can work at 13 (my sister did), but to Nicole’s point, I think, and mine, the jobs that you get at 13 or 16 aren’t the kinds of jobs that can sufficiently care for yourself and a baby. At least, not legally. The reason why teen pregnancy is a problem is, a) For Christians, it means teens are having sex and that is a no/no, and b) for everyone else, it means that there are almost certainly unwed mothers who, on their own, cannot support a baby and all that entails.

    3. I would again say that your rant was unnecessary. As you can see in my post, I specifically made the point that you shouldn’t jump to any conclusions about teen pregnancy based on the data. I made one offhand comment that I bet teen ignorance about safe sex was tied to religious belief (which I think is a pretty sound theory), but other than that, my point was that teen pregnancy is its own matter and we shouldn’t use it to try to justify one belief or another (as you have with your rather out of nowhere comment about psychobabble which I couldn’t even begin to figure out).

    Again, read my entire posts, then comment. If you do it the other way around, it gets confusing for everyone.

  5. A few things spring to mind:

    1) A third of teenage girls who got pregnant didn’t think they even could get pregnant. Wow. That’s testimony to the power of ignorance. Whether they are just stone cold stupid or have been intentionally kept ignorant by parents or the educational system, that would be interesting to know. Either way, take the ignorance away and that’s a third less teenage mothers stressing social systems, families and themselves. I think religion and especially religious politics plays a role in keeping young women ignorant in general, more specifically with regards to how to get/avoid pregnancy.

    2) The map. It’s very interesting how, given the individuality involved in a teen pregnancy, the teen pregnancy map reasonably reflects the Red State – Blue State divide, particularly the Southern Conservative states vs the Liberal Northeast. I can’t help but think this is more than just coincidence, that is is somehow cultural.

    3) The whole idea that being “young & fertile” is an excuse to breed, that teens are able to “support themselves” and their babies with minimum wage jobs, or that we should be reproducing like rats is just moronic. Teen pregnancy isn’t like getting cancer, but it’s an unnecessary drain on society, families and the mothers. While it can be overcome, it puts everyone involved at a unneeded disadvantage. Besides, the world has far too many people competing over the planet’s limited resources as it is. Nobody should be in a hurry to reproduce, especially when they don’t personally have the resources to.

    Deeper study is required, but the overall point that taking religion out of schools has done nothing to turn schools into baby factories is a given. And there is some evidence to suggest the opposite may be closer to being true.

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