Teen pregnancy presents many challenges. One Texas town has taken on that challenge by providing a high school for young mothers.
Imagine…. you’re 15, and pregnant. What are you going to do? Those on the left suggest that Texas is a lousy place to be in this situation, since we value babies’ lives to the extent that we make abortion difficult to obtain. They suggest that we ‘don’t care’ or that we won’t put our money where we say our values are by supporting social services. Here’s a ‘feel good’ story that illustrates Texas’ care for its teen moms.
Lincoln Park High School in Brownsville has taken a unique approach by offering a school specifically designed for young mothers. Whether they are currently pregnant or have already given birth, the school provides an environment that meets their needs. There’s peer support, and free daycare. In Brownsville, teen pregnancies account for 12% – more than one in 10 – births in the city.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that for every 1,000 young women in the US between the ages of 15 to 19, 15 gave birth in the year 2020. The data does not include birth rates for teenagers below the age of 15. Even with the overall national decline in teenage pregnancy, Texas remains above the national average and is consistently on the top-10 of states with high teen birth rates.
There are a myriad of factors that play a role in teen pregnancy rates. Liberal “experts” blame Texas’ high rates on strict abortion laws and the fact that sex education is not “required” in schools. These same experts don’t mention that there are cultural and ethnic variables, with teen pregnancy substantially more common among Latinas. As many as 58% of Texas public schools teach abstinence-only sex education, and 25% do not teach it at all, according to the liberal Texas Freedom Network, a religious and community leaders’ group.
As a counterpoint, many Texans believe that we have a responsibility to educate our own children on sexual morals and consequences. Not wanting the government school in charge of teaching my kid what’s right and wrong about sex shouldn’t be a radical position. Making choices according to your morals shouldn’t be a radical position. It’s a biological fact: those who choose to not have sex as teens are protected from the natural consequences of that choice including pregnancy.
“As long as we don’t share that information with them, then they’re not getting educated,” said Cynthia Cardenas, the Lincoln Park High School principal. “They’re not given the opportunity to choose whether they want the consequence or not.” On the one hand, I totally agree. Who at 15 has a clear understanding of the world, of cause and effect, or of the real costs of pregnancy? Because teen pregnancy continues to occur at a high rate in the particular population served by Lincoln Park, perhaps Cardenas is right that “they’re not getting educated.” Perhaps in that scenario, the school is the place for sex education. Perhaps it’s delivered too late, after the horse is out of the barn, so to speak. On the other hand, is it the school’s job to step in and fill the gap that the parents left? You can argue that “somebody’s got to do it,” but it seems like there are generational and cultural factors at play. Until the community collectively decides to change the culture, to educate their children, to break the cycle, the challenge won’t go away.
Given the difficulty of “changing culture,” and the unfortunate scenario that many of these young women find themselves in perhaps before they even understand all the ramifications, it is good to see a place of public support.
Some could argue, although I’d suggest they’re heartless, that it isn’t “the public’s responsibility” to fund this kind of service through the school system. Personally, if the state is going to restrict abortion on moral grounds, we absolutely must balance that restriction with increased services for those who will now keep their babies. Personally, if we’re going to have high property taxes to pay for school services, I’d value services for young mothers over huge football stadiums, if it’s my tax dollars either way.
The BBC story cited above mentions that several of the students are US-born but live in Mexico and cross the border every day to come to school. Although I write often about border security, these young ladies are following the rules. The ability to take care of mothers, or asylees, depends somewhat on their willingness to engage the system according to the rules. Texas doesn’t need to be heartless, but we have to have some terms for our hospitality. People who come to the door for help, we can help them. People who climb in the windows or over the yard fence? Those people are trespassing, and are less likely to get help.
A free Texas is free. We’re free to protect the unborn, and we’re also free to allocate resources to take care of the mothers and babies in difficult circumstances. It’s not “liberal” or “conservative,” it’s Texan. Well done, Lincoln Park High School!