If there was ever a sentence that made me want to throw up my hands and scream "what is the world coming to!?" this is it. An 11-year-old girl has reportedly given birth in a hospital in Colombia. Eleven!
I was still playing with LEGOs at 11, and here this kid is a mother. Get that? Not just an 11-year-old having sex, but an 11-year-old who had a living, breathing human being cut out of her uterus by doctors performing a C-section.
O. M. G. This is me, hyperventilating. So I'm going to go ahead and talk myself -- and you -- off the ledge.
Because I really can't deal with the thought of my beautiful, smart, funny 6-year-old being a mother anytime in the next decade (or two), I'm going to put this story in context for everyone who will be freaking out about this on the interwebs for the next week or so.
This is not normal. At least not here in the United States. Yes, the age that girls are hitting puberty, and thus able to become pregnant, is dropping. But the average age for first intercourse for American girls is 17.4. For boys, it's still a fairly respectable 16.9. Only a quarter of teenagers report having had sex by age 15.
In Colombia, where this girl gave birth, the numbers are different. It's sad and heartbreaking. But it's also a different culture. This girl in particular is a member of the Wayuu tribe, an indigenous group that lives apart from much of Colombian society. Their way of life is not something you expect to see mirrored in an average American household, so grouping your kids in with her is unrealistic and unfair.
Our daughters -- and our sons, ahem -- have us. I don't mean to sound culturally insensitive, but I dare say we are better role models, or at least place more value on the sanctity of childhood here in America.
Also good to note? The average age of a first-time mother in the United States is now around 25 years old. There are some extremely young kids who get pregnant, tragically, but it's a blip on the radar screen.
And now for the really super, duper good news. A gazillion researchers have found there's a direct correlation between kids having a good, honest, open relationship with their parents and the age of first intercourse. If kids feel they can trust you, they're likely to put it off.
In other words: by being freaked out by this 11-year-old new mother and wanting to do something about it? You're already on the right track to making sure it's not your kid freaking us out next.
When do you plan to start having these talks with your kids?
Image via janineomg/Flickr