Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Making Babies... But Why?

Kristin asked me the other day if I believed that teen pregnancy and self-esteem were related. The easiest and most logical answer to that would be sometimes yes and sometimes no, depending upon the person’s personality type. In most cases do the two correlate? This is a harder question. I would think that self-esteem, namely low self-esteem, relates to a good number of teen pregnancies, but I don’t think it applies to all of them.

I’m going to base most of what I know on my personal experiences here in the small town of Hayfield, MN. There were the occasional pregnant students in our school, much like any high school, I would imagine. You’d usually hear rumors about how so and so was supposedly pregnant. She’d outright deny the fact, though, sometimes even claiming never to have had sex to support her stance. It would be utterly terrible if anyone knew that she was doing the nasty with someone else in school, or possibly out of school, as it has been known to happen.

Then one of two things would happen, the girl would either drop out of school, thus confirming her pregnant state or the girl would finally admit to being pregnant and attempt to finish school. The latter option rarely succeeded. So was there a specific trait that all of these pregnant school kids shared? Actually, there was. Most of them were pretty slutty. Most of them were also hanging out in the “bad” crowd. You know, with the kids who drank, smoked, cursed, and showed up late for class because they were so damn cool. In all actuality, though, these kids often ended up being the trash of the school—they just never realized it. Or maybe they did, and that’s why they resorted to their tendencies of illicit activities.

So is simply a girl being slutty the only trait the pregnant ones shared? Well, that and, as I explained above, they were in the “wrong” crowd. The crowds really didn’t start to form until the end of middle school and the beginning of high school, but when the groups started forming the one you started in was usually the one you’d always be in. So if a girl had low self-esteem during the clique forming phase of high school, it might have driven them down the path of hanging with the wrong crowd, but I don’t think that alone would cause them to be slutty. There were many kids in the wrong crowd that weren’t slutty—they were just jackasses.

Maybe the slutty girls had a perpetuating sense of low self-esteem that led them to be vulnerable to male persuasion into knockin’ boots and the girls that managed to gain a little self-respect stayed in the wrong crowd but managed to keep away from sleeping around. I don’t know, really. I’m not a teenage girl and I never was so I’m just speculating. I do, however, think that a big part of the self-esteem portion of the equation stems from the kid’s parents.

Most of the kids that were in the dregs of high school society were the ones with the horrible parents. They had parents that were divorced and didn’t want them or their parents were horrible drunks or they wanted to spend more time at the bowling alley then with their kids or they spent a good portion of children’s younger years in prison or any other related scenario. The kids with the good parents (ie: the ones that took interest in their schoolwork, the ones that came to their extracurricular activities, or the ones that simply cared about their kids) usually were in the good crowd, which of course had it’s divisions into the jocks, nerds, and wannabes, but at least they weren’t the troublemakers.

So in the end, does self-esteem have anything to do with teenage pregnancy? Yes, it does. Is it the only factor? Not by a long shot.

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