Perhaps if Amber Portwood had babysat for a couple of whiny, needy children when she was younger, the Teen Mom wouldn't be where she is now in her troubled life. That's the theory anyway being put to test in the United Kingdom. British Ministers have backed a charity in which teens thought to be at risk for having unprotected sex take care of toddlers. They believe if they see how difficult children can be, the young teens may be more likely to try and prevent having one of their own.
Through the charity, named Teens and Toddlers, teenage girls are matched with a toddler with whom they spend about 20 hours a week. They also receive instruction in child development and sex education.
While it raises some questions such as how do you identify someone at risk of having unprotected sex (they just look slutty?), and how do you ensure their participation, it also doesn't sound like a bad idea. Scare the sex out of them! And the program has shown success as the pregnancy rate drops for those who participate -- 2.7 percent -- compared with a national average of 4.1 percent.
Anyone who spends 20 hours a week with a toddler, even those with the best dispositions, knows how taxing they can be. While they can be cute and fun, 20 hours is also long enough to see the tantrums and the trouble toddlers cause. It would probably take about 20 minutes with my 2-year-old for a teenager to go running for some contraception.
But it's a limited fix for a huge problem. With hundreds of thousands of teenagers becoming pregnant each year in the United States, the U.K., and elsewhere, there's certainly more that needs to be done to treat the underlying issues -- more to teach our children about their self worth, more about helping them make smart choices, more to ensure young girls aren't so desperate to find love that they'll do anything to try and get it.
Do you think babysitting could be effective in preventing teen pregnancy?
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