Last week’s report focused on May 7, the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, encouraging adults to “have a conversation with the teens in [their] lives about sex. Help them to think through choices they face, to see that all of these things do have consequences.”
The report described how the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy helped reduce the teen pregnancy rate over a ten-year period, from 1996 to 2005, and now focuses on reducing the high level of unplanned pregnancy in the United States, especially among single, young adults where the vast majority of such pregnancies occur.
I also mentioned that teen pregnancy rates are uneven across different communities. Here in DC, for example, nearly 900 teenage mothers give birth each year, but more than 500 of those mothers live in just two wards. The DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, therefore, addresses disparate ideas among teens about goals and expectations for their futures.
Today, I repeat the hope that teens and adults will consider sensible conversations about sex and that adults who work with teens will take advantage of the Stay Teen materials to help inform those conversations.
But there were a wide variety of responses to yesterday’s National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and related publicity. Fox network commentator Bill O’Reilly, for example, spoke about how Beyonce causes young black women to have unintended pregnancies. He added disparaging remarks about African-American communities, teens and pregnancy. He decried a teenage pregnancy crisis without even pausing to focus on the decline we’ve seen in recent decades. And he was not alone in this.
In response to this kind of coverage, another campaign has grown up in recent years to accompany National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. It’s called “No Teen Shame.” The message is to encourage allies for young parents; avoid stereotypes, blame and shame; and invite young people to the table when planning any work concerning teen sex and pregnancy.
In fact, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy says that it’s success comes, in part, from working from a non-ideological perspective and from listening carefully to young people themselves, allowing their unique viewpoints to inform their work. The DC Campaign, likewise, is informed by teens and teen parents. Still, the anti-shaming caution is an essential one to emphasize we discuss this sensitive topic.
The ACLU also participates in “No Teen Shame,” to highlight the rights of teen parents and pregnant teens, including the right to an education.
Beyonce Causes Decrease in Teen Pregnancy Rates
But one of the sharpest #NoTeenShame responses came from Gmalone1, a young, black latina blogger and mother who gave birth at age 15. On the blog “Amplify Your Voice,” she tells Bill O’Reilly that poor sex education and other factors contribute to her young motherhood, while Beyonce played no role. I encourage everyone to check out this important young voice and share a few of her comments here:
Mr. O’Reilly I leave you with this, teenage pregnancy rates are the lowest they have been in DECADES across all ethnic groups.
This decline seems to coincidentally line up with that fact that Beyonce’s first single album was released in 2003, and since then teenage pregnancy rates have continued to drop.
If we want to play the game of false equivalencies and correlation being causation, I will…say that it is not the show Teen Mom but is in fact Beyonce and her jezebel music you speak of that have led to the decrease in teenage pregnancy.
There you have it folks, Beyonce is the cause of the decline in unintended pregnancies. (see how ridiculous that sounds?)
— Bill O’Reilly, Beyonce and Psuedo Findings
Also on May 8’s Education Town Hall —
Health Education and Asthma Advocacy — Breathe DC
Teacher Appreciation Week and Ward 8 Candidate for State Board of Education
Listen to the full recording: