By GRISELDA RIVERA
MARIA CARRILLO HIGH SCHOOL, SENIOR, 17

We’ve all heard the phrase “use protection” at least 100 times. It’s an accurate phrase that some choose to ignore because they hear it so often.
But when a Santa Rosa teen health center, Southwest Community Health Center, said last fall that in the past year half of 409,840 infants were born to teen girls age 15 to 19, do you still think it’s unimportant to ignore that phrase?
Teen pregnancy makes the lives of the teens and their parents more troublesome and crushes their dreams of a great future. Pregnancy is something that should happen when you are prepared for it and know what you are doing. Parents normally have high expectations for their children. However, when their child becomes pregnant as a teen, their expectations are not met and their life is overcome with disappointment. The expenses of a baby are extremely high and many of the parents of the pregnant teens have to help financially.
As reported by babycenter.com, the average cost of caring for a child in its first year of life is $10,158. The cost of diapers, formula, baby wipes, clothing and housing add up quickly, which is why pregnant teens often rely on their parents for help, often stressing out the teens and their parents.
As stated by the Southwest Community Health Center, two out of three teen mothers never graduate from high school. Education is extremely important and without one, many teens will not get far. Without an education, it is harder to get a job that will pay what is needed to support a family. According to parents.com, a baby born now will cost a middle-class family $170,460 to raise through age 17. Many teens are not in the right place in their career, if they even have one, to be considered as part of the middle class. Teens mainly get paid minimum wage. Minimum wage does not provide enough money for the expenses of a newborn. Minimumwage.org states that a person who earns minimum wage in California will only make $16,640 a year. Teens like to go out shopping and to other locations but cannot if they are providing for someone other than themselves. A teen could not handle the financial pressure to provide for a child.
I believe that no teen is ready for pregnancy, so they should make an effort to save their golden teenage years. Teenagers cannot even take complete care of themselves. Therefore, they are not at all prepared to raise a child while they themselves are still children. Teenage parents cannot live the life of typical teenagers. They no can longer go out with their friends whenever they feel like it. Caring for a baby takes 24 hours a day, seven days a week and that means teen parents have to be completely dedicated to their child. It is another life in the hands of two struggling teens.
Two teenagers raising a child is hard enough, but imagine if the father of the child isn’t there at all. It is far more common that the mother will struggle with raising the child on her own. According to the Southwest Community Health Center, “only one out of every five teen mothers receives any support from the child’s father and about 80 percent end up on welfare.” Pregnancy can be prevented and you all know how, you just need to do it. There are plenty of options, such as abstinence, condoms and oral contraceptives. There is always the chance of contraceptives failing, but that chance is slimmer than not using any protection at all. The only sure way to avoid pregnancy is abstinence. That is why you need to really think about your future and consider whether it’s worth it.
Dealing with pregnancy is not easy for the teens or their parents. Parents have a hard time accepting that their teen is pregnant. Kidshealth.org and other such websites exist to help parents cope and figure out how to handle the situation. There are also websites for teens to receive help parenting and also cope with their pregnancy issues, such as helpstartshere.org. It is no doubt both teens and their parents need help. Teens should be safe now because they can, rather than literally pay the price for simply making a bad choice. Think about the consequences before doing anything you might regret. Be smart or you will be a part of this growing statistic.