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Some schools have sought to punish teenage mothers in many ways to raise awareness on the pitfalls related to teenage pregnancy. Frightened of promoting policies or actions that back teen-age sexuality, schools have developed unclear guidelines regarding teenage pregnancy and motherhood. The toughened images of mothers as sexually careless have been commonly used, while other have simply judged them to likely become “bad mothers” who will join the row of non-productive American citizens. While it is understandable that the practice tries to free itself from the increase of young women becoming pregnant in the future, there is no acceptable way to explain the support of additional difference forced on the young pregnant mother.
She is faced with additional unnecessary shame and unfair treatment from our ruthless and judgmental social system. This will likewise make it harder for her to drag her underdeveloped body to school and face another daily hurdle. Eventually, some would just quit school which accounts for the “62% of young women dropping out of school after giving birth” according to Hrabowski (2002, p. 13). In this manner, our social system has actually fallen short of criticizing teenage pregnancy by questioning and stereotyping women’s roles and is considered a negative impact on the lives of young mothers in high school.
Motherhood for every woman across all age groups regardless of race is an experience of a lifetime. Many believed that the needs of teen-age mothers are similar to the needs of high-risk mothers. Health maintenance is a must as medical professionals offer advice to new mothers to “take it slow after childbirth” in order to allow the human system to slowly adapt to the bodily changes. Society has to this effect granted working mothers enough amount of rest through maternity leaves before and after delivery to recognize her right to health maintenance. In some societal structures however, the traditional views of motherhood are unwelcome in some areas of our educational system. Some schools impose a mandatory “return to school” policy right after giving birth to teen-age mothers. The subject of this study is therefore to the value of a few weeks rest for post-partum high school students.
The medical value of rest after childbirth is taught to the mothers of all ages by the health team for health reasons. A longer rest period is even afforded to those who have undergone Caesarean section birth process. Mothers who have undergone normal deliveries were also granted enough rest and time for bonding with their newborn. Medical theories support that insufficient rest is dangerous to young mothers because of “negative childbirth complications, resulting to possible deaths” according to Lutrell (p. 47). In the real meaning of medical consideration, a young mother is seen fit to enjoy ample amount of rest prior to “return to school activities”. Humanitarian considerations also understand that the young mother is entitled to spend a few moments of rearing for her newborn child.
Right after birth, a teen-age mother is overwhelmed by many reasons to stay at home. Her body has been subjected to extensive demands brought about by the pregnancy and childbirth. Her emotional and psychological issues associated with the pregnancy and childbirth does not also disappear overnight. In many cases, her problems are enhanced with child-rearing capacities amidst other struggles. Newborn babies are also in need of maternal care and nurture. While the society has endorsed breastfeeding as a healthy program for babies and mothers, this activity requires more than a few days of rest. A few weeks after childbirth is therefore a crucial moment for mother and child as the mother needs to fully understand her situation and bond with her baby. Encouraging young mothers some time to rest right after childbirth “prevents her from undue harassment while encouraging girls to continue their education” in Lutrell (p. 19).
It would be meaningless to require a new mother to immediately report to school without predicting the possibility of shaming her in front of other students. Breastfeeding mothers run the actual risk of discovery due to leaking breast milk. Other hormonal changes is also active during this period as new mothers of all ages experience blood flow that eventually lasts for more than two weeks on the average. Also, a time when her confidence is fragile teen-age mothers need an ample amount of support from her family and friends. The educational system with which she has been linked to can greatly assist in order for her to withstand the amount of responsibility hurled upon her. Expressing any need for her to continue her studies is a good thing in order to encourage her perception of available opportunities for her and her child. But a structure that keeps her away from balancing her responsibilities at home will affect her negative attitudes towards school. If the school is indeed bent on providing a safety net for the society, it should therefore realize that teen-age motherhood is a difficult condition requiring their support and understanding.
Some schools have been lenient with teen-age pregnancy and have made it easier for the young expectant mothers to attend classes. Yet teenage mothers still find it difficult to adapt to a support system in school that allows her to manage their time between education and their new responsibilities. Although schools have claimed that a supportive atmosphere has been provided with “interventions and cannot simply be inpidualized” up to a point when the young girls can accept their dual roles, the system can still provide minimum extensions as needed in order to provide a supportive atmosphere (Baker, 2007: 205). New mothers are not simply bent on disregarding them such deliberately trying to be absent in the guise of motherhood. Though additional considerations may interfere with the methods of instruction, helping students finish their studies should be encouraged for them to reap educational benefits. Schools may also offer “a student the option of getting a program that can accommodate “home-bound instruction or transfer to another school with appropriate resources” Lutrell (p.20).
My current stand on this study is still to require schools to adapt changes in its policies that would be medically beneficial and supportive to the plight of teenage mothers. Imposing a rule that require new mothers in high school to return to school immediately after childbirth is considered medically preposterous. Ample time shouldbe granted for teen-age mothers to re-adjust and get back their roles in the educational system while balancing their new roles at home. Education is a legal right for everyone and the school board should consider that which is beneficial to its students in order to encourage a viable society for all!
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