Friday, March 06, 2009

Great Britain: Land of the Virgin Birth

Despite opening with a trite anecdote, a British MP gets of to a reasonable start on the issue of teen pregnancy:
Many (though not all) teenage girls do not become pregnant accidentally because of ignorance, because of a lack of understanding of how their bodies work. They become pregnant because they have absolutely no ambition for themselves. They have been indoctrinated with the lie that they'll never amount to anything, and have fulfilled that prophesy by making no effort to achieve any qualification. Very often they live with parents (or a parent) who have no jobs themselves, who are setting the example of benefit dependency for all their offspring.

Such young women see parenthood as one way of achieving a level of independence and self-worth. And they're right, because that's more or less what they get: a flat and therefore some privacy, an income for the first time in their lives. And in fact, many of them make a decent job of parenthood despite the awful circumstances. But even they are nevertheless rearing the next generation in an environment where the main adult isn't working, but claiming.
He then describes how despite his own relative poverty as a child, his parents served as role models for a strong work ethic. So it would seem that the solution to this problem would be to help girls in impoverished communities better understand and achieve their options, or perhaps to make teen parenthood a less easy path to independence. (The problem there, the other paths tend to be more expensive in the short-term than cutting a new welfare check.)

Apparently not.
People shouldn't be ashamed of their circumstances, but neither should we avoid making value judgments about others' choices, especially when those choices result in a greater burden on the state, and lead to the continuation of the underclass.

Teenage girls shouldn't be having underage sex. Why? Because it's wrong.

Teenage girls shouldn't choose to have babies as an alternative to getting an education and a career. Why? Because it's wrong.

Parents shouldn't teach their children that a lifetime on benefits is attractive or even acceptable. Why? Because it's wrong.

(Please assume all the usual caveats: some people have no choice but to claim benefits, lots of single parents do a great job, etc.)
I must have missed something - how do all of these teenage girls get pregnant? The author says teenage girls become "pregnant because they have absolutely no ambition for themselves", but I nonetheless suspect that somewhere along the line these pregnancies involve sex acts. With boys and men. Does the author's moral approbation truly extend only to girls?

Honestly, even if we could work up a sufficient amount of society outrage at teen mothers, or even teen parents, I don't think it will do anything to eliminate the problem. Teen pregnancy rates were pretty high in the early 20th century, the big difference being that more babies were adopted and more young parents-to-be ended up being pressed into marriage. If the issue is preventing teen pregnancy, as opposed to making it less visible, maybe the focus truly should be on the economics, and upon incurring the additional expense to provide teen mothers who wished to no longer live at home, but could not afford to live independently, with a structured environment where they could learn parenting skills and complete their educations.

Meanwhile, there actually is compelling evidence that with better sex education and better availability of birth control, teen pregnancies will drop significantly.

1 comment:

  1. "Does the author's moral approbation truly extend only to girls?"

    Yes. And I would bet my left tit that this particular MP had no qualms in his own teenage years about screwing around. Boys just do that, you know; girls are sluts.


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