Any time I see anyone wanting to do something about teen parents, they are talking about prevention.Don't get me wrong, prevention is great, but very rarely is anything proposed that would help the girls who are already mothers.
I got pregnant with my first child when I was 18. Many people treated me poorly because of my age. I was working in a restaurant at the time, and my boss kept telling me that I was too young to have a baby and I should give him to her. When I started showing, she moved me to the back of the restaurant because having a pregnant teenager out front looked bad. I ended up having to quit the job because of the harassment, and because I was very sick and not allowed to take any time off work.
I had many people point at me and whisper (and some didn't even bother to whisper. After I started showing, I didn't really go in public if it could be avoided.
I was 19 when my son was born. The doctor who delivered him was someone I had never met before. He kept forcing me into different positions, and acting like I was a complete idiot who was wasting his time every time I asked a question.
I got pregnant with my second child when my first was only a few months old. I barely went in public during my second pregnancy. It took me a long time to even tell anyone I was pregnant because I was so ashamed that I had messed up again. When I was 32 weeks pregnant, my husband lost his job and we had to apply for food stamps and medicaid. The people in the office acted like I was a complete idiot for waiting so far into my pregnancy before applying for medicaid. They didn't listen when I said that I had been receiving prenatal care since 12 weeks, and I hadn't needed medicaid because I had insurance until that point.
I overheard someone behind me in line at the grocery store complain about the fact that I was using foodstamps or a wic voucher to pay for my food more than once. I've been called a whore by a complete stranger, just based on the fact that I was in a grocery store buying food with a big pregnant belly and a baby on my hip.
I ended up sending my husband to get groceries most of the time, because people are much nicer to someone that they perceive to be a single father.
I have three sisters. One got pregnant with her first child When she was 15. She was having trouble at school because of bullying due to her pregnancy, and asked to be home schooled until her baby was born. When my family went to get the paperwork needed to home school her, the person in charge of homeschooling in our county refused to let them fill it out, and suggested she just drop out because it was going to happen eventually anyway.
I went to a private school for two years, and one of my classmates was forced to leave the school because she was pregnant and the school didn't want her to make them look bad.
The stigma against teen pregnancy keeps many girls from getting help. Teen mothers are usually the first people mentioned when people list off who they don't think their tax dollars should take care of. Many people (including some parents) take the stance that "you got yourself into this mess, so you can deal with it yourself".
Any bit of help or recognition that teen mothers get is criticized and said to encourage teen motherhood, because if teen mothers get any help with childcare, shelter, or food, it totally makes up for all the other hardships they face and other teenagers will go out of their way to become teen mothers themselves.
Given all this, is it really a surprise that teen parents and their children tend to live in poverty and have all the problems that go along with it?
I'm sorry if I rambled, I'm not really a writer. I just haven't seen much discussion on this topic, and I am interested to see if anyone has anything they would like to say on the subject.