Category: Faith & Family
Start Date: May 20, 2016
In my research for the past five years I found some very real and disturbing facts about the teen pregnancy rate and female incarceration in Oklahoma. I researched this information because it intrigued and infuriated me.
This brings me to ask the question, what happens to the children of these women? The Foster care system has failed these children for many years. Oklahoma teen births remain a serious social issue in our communities, which leads to an increase in the high school dropout rates. These women and their children become dependent on the government social structure and ultimately in a cycle of poverty for many years or for a lifetime. The children of teen mothers are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school; they have more health problems, become incarcerated at some time during adolescence; give birth as a teenager and face unemployment as a young adult.
In my twenty five years of working with the teen population in Tulsa, Oklahoma, statistics indicate a very substantial rate of a second pregnancy before high school completion. Preteen girls with below average reading skills become pregnant at a higher incidence than girls with average reading skills.
Oklahoma has the third highest teen birth rate in the nation; girls born to teen mothers are 83% more likely to become teen mothers. Teen pregnancy is very evident in the Tulsa and its surrounding communities. Poor parenting skills, supervision and the lack of a structured environment often lead to this repeated cycle seen for generations.
I have worked since 1991 to present at The Margaret Hudson Program, yes there are success stories, but I have seen many of the younger teen girls between the ages of twelve and fifteen with a higher rate of a second pregnancy and drop out school rate. Many of these girls were never given the opportunity to be in a structured family centered environment.
This brings me to my passion for the past several years to have a home for teens pregnant and/or parenting. I believe given an opportunity to live with a housemother, and an environment that promotes healthy relationships, encourages positive support most often will lead to success. This resident would be available on the basis of need at no cost to the client; she will be required to be enrolled in an educational facility in pursuit of a high school certificate. She will be required to live within the policies and guidelines of the residential living facility.
Myrtle Watson, Founder