Expulsion, abandonment not the solution for teen pregnancy
I don't understand the "if you put pregnant teens on the streets, it'll teach them a lesson" mentality. In response to a letter to the editor in The Washington Post that discussed what schools can do to reduce teen pregnancy rates, one commenter illustrated that mentality and had this to say:
It is not the place of the schools or of my tax dollars to support "teen moms." Girls who get pregnant should be expelled from public schools as an example. If we'd stop coddling this trash and supporting them with our tax dollars, the problem would solve itself. There's a reason that the problem has gotten worse with the creation of the welfare system.
What great arguments: (1) schools are NOT a place to support children; (2) pregnancy should be punished; (3) pregnancy is on the same level as other reasons for expulsion; (4) helping them get an education is "coddling"; (5) the problem will solve itself if we just throw kids out on the street and ignore them; and (6) the welfare system worsened teen pregnancy, not the fact that teen moms will need to use welfare more when you take away their education and tools for advancement in life.
This mentality never ceases to amaze me. Schools are a place where children need to be supported -- and it's also a place where they should be educated on things like health and sex, but many people still don't want to embrace comprehensive sex education -- people still believe that telling kids not to have sex will be good enough, or if we teach them about it then it'll pollute their minds, and then when they get pregnant because the school system hasn't actually educated them about sex, we punish the students for not knowing any better. There is social culpability there.
The Guttmacher Institute is loaded with statistics about teen sex education and pregnancy. Most teens are taught about abstinence, HIV, and STIs, but one-third aren't taught about contraception. About one-fourth of teens who learned about abstinence didn't learn about birth control. About 86 percent of the drastic drop of teen pregnancy rates since 1990 is because of better contraceptive use. The statistics scream that education about how to properly use contraception leads to results, yet the statistics also show that not all teens are getting that information.
And really, pregnancy should be punished with expulsion? Here's one example of what kids get expelled for, which is pretty characteristic of most schools: bringing a dangerous weapon to school; bringing alcohol or drugs to school; assaulting a school employee; or being charged or convicted with a felony. Really, pregnancy is on the same level as bringing a weapon to school or assaulting someone? Those are activities that are endangering other people at the school -- plus, why should it be within the school's jurisdiction to police premarital sex?
And then we arrive at the welfare system argument. This commenter's desire to restrict teen moms' access to education would leave them without the tools necessary to go to college or get a decent-paying job -- so when she must turn to government assistance, the commenter wants to complain about that, too, even though the reason she needs welfare is because her education was taken away from her. Sounds like the people who want to tell women they can't have abortions and then complain when they need government assistance to raise those babies. If you're going to take away women's choices, don't be surprised when they don't have many options or opportunities to choose from.
Instead of focusing on how much they disagree morally with whatever action (which isn't criminal in the eyes of the law) and wanting to punish them on moral ground using the tools of the state, people need to separate the two and do what's best for the women who are pregnant. And using them "as an example" is not what's best for them -- it's what is best for serving the selfish purpose of people who want to punish them. And for teens who aren't going to know about safe sex unless someone tells them, it's better for them to be prepared and know about contraception. Teens are always taught that abstinence is the only way to 100 percent prevent pregnancy -- but they need to know that if they don't choose to abstain, there are still other ways to prevent pregnancy.
And of course, the one thing lacking from this commenter's assault on pregnant teens is that only the pregnant teens should be expelled -- what about the fathers of these children? Should they be expelled, too? After all, they must've been involved in the act, so shouldn't we be taking away their ability to provide for themselves and advance in society, too? I'm sure it has nothing to do with the double standard that women are shamed for having sex outside of marriage, while men are expected to do so and therefore escape punishment on the "boys will be boys" ticket.