Monday, May 11, 2015

Teen Moms Need Support, Not Shame via NY Mag

One of my fellow #NoTeenShame mamas, Natasha Vianna, and myself were interviewed for NY Mag| The Cut about teen moms needing support not shame. 

I think it might be one of my favorite interviews... 

When Gloria Malone and Natasha Vianna got pregnant as teens, they thought their lives were over. This is, after all, what many teen pregnancy campaigns suggest. “You think being in school sucks? You know what sucks a lot more? A baby — every 2 hours for feeding time,” reads one ad from the Candie’s Foundation. Another says, “You’re supposed to be changing the world, not changing diapers.”
Over the past 20 years, the teen birth rate has declined almost continuously, but the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world. Statistically, teen parents in the U.S. are less likely to finish high school, more likely to experience poverty as adults, and more likely to have kids with poorer behavioral, educational, and health outcomes.  But many teens that become pregnant were already disadvantaged, and the stigma only makes things worse.
Giving birth at 15 and 17 respectively inspired Malone and Vianna to improve the experiences of other teen moms. They founded #noteenshamewith five other teen moms from across the country; and what started as a hashtag has become a larger effort to support teen moms, call out campaigns that traffic in stigma, and provide basic information and support to young parents. In addition to challenging shaming teen-pregnancy-prevention campaigns, founding members also consult with politicians around the country on improving outcomes for teen moms and how to create comprehensive sex ed. Vianna, now 27, gave a TedTalk in 2013, worked with Boston politicians to revise and implement a new policy for parenting students, and is the Digital Communications Manager at the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy. Malone, now 23, has written for the New York Timestaken on Bill O’Reilly, and created a website for teen moms in New York.

Over a three-way call one evening — “one of the perks of interviewing young parents is they’re home on a Friday night,” Malone quipped — they shared their experiences as pregnant and parenting teens, talked about the shame and stigma they’ve worked to overcome, and articulated what needs to change when it comes to teen pregnancy prevention.