This week in ‘The Youngest Parents,’ Vida’s continuing series on teen pregnancy among Latinos in the San Joaquín Valley, I profiled two young women: A 16-year-old who is newly pregnant, and a 22-year-old mother of a 6-year-old son, who is beating the odds.
Meet Cynthia, a 16-year-old sophomore at Madera North High School, who is four months pregnant. In this video message, she encourages all young women to use protection if they decide to become sexually active.
Meet Mayra, a 22-year-old junior at California State University, Fresno. She became pregnant at age 15, and is today the mother of 6-year-old Daniel.
Statistics say that as a teen mom, Mayra is more likely to have less educational attainment, and Daniel, as the son of a teen mom, is more likely to become incarcerated. Mayra is proving everyone wrong.
May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. Starting next week, Vida en el Valle will begin a six-part series on teen pregnancy among Latinos in the San Joaquín Valley. The series will run from Mothers Day through Fathers Day.
For now, meet a few Tulare County teen moms, and read about their experiences, in their own words.
Allison Velasco (pictured above) Age: 18 Children: Adrian, 4, and Oscar, 6 months Age when she became pregnant: 14 Reaction to becoming pregnant: “I just cried, because I knew I wasn’t ready.” On becoming a teen mom: “I know I missed my whole teenage life but I don’t regret it one bit. Since I had my first son, I’ve enjoyed and loved being a mom.” Advice for other teens: “Either have safe sex, or don’t have it at all.”
Yolanda Alvarez Age: 18 Child: Evelyn, 2 Age when she became pregnant: 15 Reaction to becoming pregnant: “I was surprised… I have a good relationship with my baby’s dad, so it wasn’t that bad.” On becoming a teen mom: “You are 16 years old, and if you become a mom, you’re going to be a mom for the rest of your life.” Advice for other teens: “If you’re going to have sex, be responsible about it… My baby is worth it, but it’s better if you wait and enjoy your high school.” Hopes for her child: “I know the statistic: Kids from teen moms become teen moms, too. I don’t want that to happen to her.”
Evelyn Gaeta Age: 19 Child: Adrian, 22 months Age when she became pregnant: 16 Reaction to becoming pregnant: “I was crying. I said, ‘My life is ruined. What am I going to do? I’m just 16 and pregnant.’ I just couldn’t believe it – that I had done that to myself and someone else. I couldn’t provide for him – I was just 16.” On becoming a teen mom: “I don’t regret it now. I’m really happy with him.” Hopes for her child: “I just want him to go to college and make something good of himself. I just want for him to be happy. I want to see him succeed in life. I don’t want him to be struggling and be a young parent like his mom did. I don’t want him to go through the struggles that I went through.”
Of those Latina teen moms, 54 percent do not complete high school, according to The National Campaign
Kern, Kings, Tulare, and Madera had the four highest teen birth rates in California in 2008, According to the Public Policy Institute. Fresno and Merced were ranked seventh and eight in the state in teen pregnancy rates.
But this blog is not going to dwindle on the numbers.
Let’s focus, instead, on some fantastic, youth-generated teen pregnancy prevention videos. These videos do a great job of describing the issues and challenges around teen pregnancy – in words that will resonate with other teens.
The seven Latino teens featured in the candid video filmed themselves using Flip Cameras, and responded to open-ended questions about what it’s like to be a Latino teen today, and their views on teen pregnancy.
This PSA and others, as well as a short film, will be broadcast on MTV Tr3s from Dec. 13 – Dec. 26.
Watch these videos and let us know: What do you think of these videos? Can youth-generated videos make a difference in the Valley’s teen pregnancy rates?