In My Neighborhood
Take a deep breath.
Perhaps the problem in communities where there the teen birth rate is high is not that there are significant resources dedicated to helping people who already have children. We are a society that reveres motherhood as the hardest and most rewarding job of all. We should be doing what we can to help parents succeed. Part of that is helping people who don’t want to become parents until later access the information and services they need to achieve that goal, in addition to providing the necessary supports for parents, regardless of age.
Perhaps what the author sees as lack of attention to helping young people pursue higher education isn’t that those resources are necessarily diverted to helping young families; it’s that there is an overall lack of opportunity in certain communities as a result of decades of policies that make upward mobility and educational attainment out of reach for lots of reasons. Perhaps this “bias in offerings” is a reasonable response to communities where the needs are great and money is scarce. Perhaps we need to have a conversation that helps re-center prevention—of pregnancy, of dropping out of high school, of unemployment—in addition to helping triage in the midst of what to public officials can feel like crises.
Perhaps there is lots of misinformation about public assistance in general—that women on “welfare” get more money for having more babies (no), that teens become pregnant so they can get cheap housing (nope), or that some of us live in a world where relying on this help to make ends meet comes without scrutiny and stigma (nuh uh). Perhaps this essay fans the flames of this debate. Perhaps it is simply one young woman’s account of what she sees around her.
In my neighborhood, we can work to give communities the tools they need to help individuals achieve their goals on all fronts, whether they are related to childbearing, or education, or affordable housing, or reducing poverty. I think all of these concerns are related. And I think we can do it without pointing fingers, and without demonizing those among us who might need the most help.