Is AZ High School Wrong to Honor Single Mothers?

When a young girl becomes pregnant, you want to help her to deliver a healthy baby.  You want to provide options:  adoption, or raising the child with assistance.

You want her to feel love and acceptance, not shame, for having made a difficult decision–for choosing Life.  But….

Do you want to celebrate the pregnancy, potentially encouraging other young girls to engage in premarital sexual activity?  Does public acceptance serve to glamorize a life-changing mistake?

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A high school in Mesa, Arizona has chosen to honor the high school-age girls who are mothers, congratulating them for successfully juggling motherhood and academic studies; and some parents and students are not happy about it.

AZ Central reports that pages 40 and 41 of the Mesa High School’s 255-page yearbook, Superstition Vol. 105, are devoted to students who have children or who are expectant parents.  The pages, titled “I’m Working a Double Shift,” applaud the young women for handling the responsibility of raising children while attending school.

One of the photos which has sparked the most criticism shows a high school boy embracing the belly of a female high school student.

Since the yearbook was published, school principal Jim Souder has received angry calls from parents, questioning the wisdom of including photos of expectant students and student parents along with images of students who had won awards or served in school clubs.

According to AZ Central:

Mesa Public Schools spokeswoman Helen Hollands said the photos are not what the school district expects from high school yearbooks.

“A yearbook is to commemorate the achievements of the students, particularly the senior class,” she said. “Probably this would not fall into that category.”

Joanna Allhands, columnist for AZ Central, wrote an editorial about what those Mesa yearbook pages forgot to mention.  According to Joanna:  

Long ago our society chose wisely to remove the primeval stigma from teen childbearing and bring pregnant girls back into sunlight. No longer are they turned leperlike from the colony and denied an education. This is a good thing.

But featuring pregnant teens in a two-page spread of photos glamorizing a life-altering mistake risks normalizing dysfunction.

Here’s what those pages don’t depict: The overwhelming odds that teen parents will:

• Be less likely to finish school.

• More likely to turn to welfare.

• More likely to live in poverty as adults.

• And more likely to have children who face significant behavioral and health problems.

All of these bullet points are sirens sounded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and we can’t help but hear them as Mesa High School tries to normalize teen pregnancy as if it were another activity, like chess club.

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So, SEASONS OF GRACE Readers, what do you think?

How do you balance the competing goals of respecting the girl–not shaming her, but helping her to develop the skills she’ll need to successfully mother her child–yet not turn her into a class “hero”?

How do you welcome the newborn, while at the same time encouraging other girls to focus on their studies and to wait until they’re older and married to become pregnant?

 

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Tough question. I don’t know how you balance it, but I would err on the side of celebrating. We don’t have to celebrate it by highlighting it in the yearbook book but I wouldn’t hide it out of the yearbook either. If I remember my yearbook, there were spontaneous photos of people around school. The pregnant girls could be included in those type of pictures, but formal photo spreads just for the pregnancies seems tacky at best.

  • Eagles Fan

    I think that celebrating them is wonderful. I think that single motherhood is already a burden enough. I don’t think it glamorizes them, but I think it shows them a supportive community.

  • irena mangone

    There but for the grace of God. It’s good the girls are getting an education, and need to be acknowledged. It’s ok for all those holier than thou types. Hope it was not their sons who got the girls into that situation. These girls need our support.

  • http://sfomom.blogspot.com/ Barb S

    The columnist mentioned that girls who have babies during their high-school years are less likely to finish school. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the achievement of those who DID manage to complete their education. It can serve to inspire other girls in that situation who might feel overwhelmed. A little encouragement can go a long way, especially for young women who are in crisis-pregnancy situations.

  • Shaun G. Lynch

    On balance, it’s far better to celebrate these girls’ decision to stay in school than to hide them away.

    As for the risk of “glamorizing” teen pregnancy… seriously?!

    I’m willing to bet that not one of the girls in the yearbook spread became pregnant intentionally. Only the most monumentally stupid among the yearbook’s readers would see the young mothers’ status as something to emulate.

  • Katty Wills

    Being a single mother SUCKS! Having to deal with rude behaviour, household chores and earning a decent living really gets me frustrated sometimes! Someone needs to teach some men about RESPONSIBILITY! My unknown pals at C2S agree completely! Check out http://click2scream.com/ today!


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