Monday, April 26, 2010

Parents and progress

The following essay appeared in the Sunday, April 18, 2010 edition of The Dallas Morning News in the Points section of the paper. 

The systemic forces at work that maintain deeply entrenched poverty in our community contribute to the challenges facing low-income parents and families.  Still, the call to poor parents and children is to rise to the occasion to do everything possible to overcome the terrible obstacles in the way of their progress.  I suspect that the success Mr. Robberson suggests in his essay must alos involve a strong community component. 

What do you think?

Tod Robberson: Bridging the gap through better parenting

Principal Lucy Hakemack got a shocking response from her H. Grady Spruce High School students when they were told that their Pleasant Grove neighborhood ranks second in the nation in teen pregnancies.

They applauded.

It seems the students regarded their school and community as having accomplished something noteworthy. They just didn't get that a top national ranking for ruined futures is not a good thing.

To read the entire report click here.


Anonymous said...

Living in a different part of the country prevents me from having a good working knowledge of the Dallas area, but I am pretty sure that the story plays out in pretty much the same manner in the Memphis area where I live. Until the cycle of children having children is broken real change seems unlikely. I have worked in schools as both an educator as well as a volunteer. When you see child after child end up pregnant it does get frustrating. I am curious what programs you have seen that work in lowering the rates of teen pregnancies. I agree that it is not a racial thing, and it is not always a poverty thing, but as I see you post pictures of your beautiful grandchildren I sense that they enter the world with so many advantages simply because they are not being raised by a teenage mother and an absentee father. There was a time when poverty did not automatically mean a child born out of wedlock. We now live in a society as a whole where there is absolutely no stigma attached to single parenthood. When you have students applauding their high ranking for teen pregnancies you have a deep seeded problem, and a cycle that becomes almost impossible to break.

Richard Corum

Anonymous said...

Sadly, this does not surprise me. Here in Dallas I once spoke with some neighbors of a mentally retarded woman who said they wanted to help her raise her kids because CPS was about to step in if something didn't change. The oldest child was a 13 year old girl. I said we particularly needed to watch our for her because she could easily become "another statistic" of teen pregnancy. I thought they would get this immediately. But in response I got nothing but blank stares. They had probably been teen mothers themselves and it was clear they thought there was nothing wrong with it. We were just in two different worlds on the subject.

Until we can change some basic attitiudes about certain things in communities in poverty, especially teenage pregnancy and the value of education, I fear nothing will really change. Social services will just remain lifeguards with no one really learning how to swim.

Leslie Clay said...

Let's not forget that according to a report by the Dallas Morning News in September 2009, that Texas leads the nation in repeat teen pregnancies (teens having more than one baby before they are 20) and in Texas, Dallas is the city with the #1 rate of repeat teen pregnancies. Hope Cottage Pregnancy & Adoption Center is working to address this very issue with the ABCs of Adoption Education Program. The program targets pregnant, parenting and high risk teens with a very informative and de-romanticized message about the realities of the demands of single/teen parenting and what the future may hold for them. They receive information about supportive communiyt resources available to them. The objective of the ABCs of Adoption Education Program is to ensure that teens are armed with real world information about the difficulties created by becoming a teen parent for themselves, their families and any real or potential children in the hopes that they will make responsible choices for both their future and that of babies they have have.

Anonymous said...

Do you notice that govt. and non-profit policies and programs address teen pregnancy in such a way that we are all dependent upon the child (the weakest link in the chain) making an informed decision? When the problem is children having children, is it rational to appeal to the children as if they are adults? Would I ask my 14 year-old if it would be OK for my spouse and I to have another baby? And then act on it as the s/he is sole source of authority on the matter?

How about we inversely tie tax revenue allocation to neighborhoods to pregnancy rates? Want that new community center? Police your children. And before you tell me how uncaring this idea is, tell us how the current approach is working.