In the latest issue of Hispanic Magazine, journalist Betty Cortina dedicates an article to the “disturbing” rates of Latina teen pregnancy in the US entitled “A Growing Problem.” Although I applaud her for bringing this issue to the forefront of Hispanic Magazine’s readers, I can’t help but think her information was a little one-sided.
At the beginning of the article, Cortina ridicules her own family for being happy for her pregnant 15 year old cousin. She blames our culture for looking at an unwanted pregnancy as a blessing. Next, she goes on to cite a Texas school district as having one of the “most successful teen pregnancy programs” in the country. She believes that letting the young mothers stay in their original schools serves two purposes; one being that it allows them to finish school and graduate, and two it acts as a deterrent for the rest of the girls in the school.
Although I believe in programs that offer services like child care and transportation to help teen moms finish school, I don’t believe that the “scare tactic” is the best approach to reducing teen pregnancy. I was very disappointed to see that Cortina did not choose to highlight a school with a sexual and reproductive health education program instead.
The author continues by highlighting the Mary’s Center executive director, Maria Gomez. The Mary’s Center is known for providing essential reproductive health services to teen parents, but also many social services to thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Maryland area. Agreeing with Gomez, Cortina concludes by saying that the best solution to reducing teen pregnancy in our communities is to have more role models. She says that as successful Latinas, we “forget” that we have a responsibility to mentor those left behind.
Of course she doesn’t mention social conditions, the impact of economics, or even our political conditions. Once again, it’s our own fault. I’ve seen the work that organizations such as NLIRH and other reproductive justice organizations do on a day-to-day basis. To say that we have forgotten about our communities is completely false and misses the broader point: changing our community isn’t just about individual responsibility, it’s also about the broader society and how it impacts us.
By Krystal Chan, Development and Communications Intern