News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Don Drumm Studios

Akron General

Hennes Paynter Communications

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us

Nearly a third of teen girls who drop out say pregnancy played a role
Relationships and goals change

Courtesy of ssstok flickr
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

More than 305,000 teenage girls gave birth across the country in 2012, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. And that goes hand-in-hand with another statistic: 30 percent of teen girls who drop out of high school cite parenthood as a reason.

Continuing StateImpact Ohio’s coverage of the high-school dropout epidemic, reporter Amy Hansen examines the difficulties pregnant teens face while trying to earn their diploma.

LISTEN: Pregnancy and dropping out often come together

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:45)

Nineteen-year old Kathleen Clement looks forward to Tuesdays.

That’s the day she gets to put aside parenting for a few hours with other young moms at Akron’s First Glance youth center. During this recent evening, Clement and about 15 other women in their teens and early 20s are gathered around a folding table, making card games for their kids. Clement gave birth to her daughter Helena during her senior year at Towpath Trails High School. And like many students who suddenly face having to care for an infant, she dropped out shortly after.

“I don’t have a car, so it would have been hard for me to get to school with a baby,” Clement said. “And it was more important for me to be with her.” But as we talk more, Clement reveals it wasn’t just a lack of transportation, or even devotion to her newborn, that led her to leave school. Her relationships started to change, and she didn’t like the extra looks she was receiving.

“I started to feel very uncomfortable with people staring at me and things like that,” she said. “I ended up putting a ring, an engagement ring, on my finger just because people kept looking at me like it was disgusting and a sin.”

You can't hide it
Lara Kaufmann, the director for education policy for at-risk students at the National Women’s Law Center, says what Clement felt is common and is one of the reasons young women drop out.

“As soon as a girl is showing, it makes it clear to her fellow students she’s engaged in sexual activity,” Kaufman explained. “And unlike a male student, she can’t hide it. Some students see that as a fair game for sexual harassment.”

But that’s less true today than in the past, says Yvonne Culver, a guidance counselor of over 15 years at Akron Public Schools. She says schools today are more accommodating to pregnant teens, offering emotional support, and connections to important resources like daycare once the baby is born.

Shared goals
She says their goal for them is no different than for any other student: do what it takes to get them to graduation. “We can’t make school a baby shower,” Culver said. “So, just walking that line where the student doesn’t feel ostracized, they just feel like a student.”

The organizer of First Glance’s young moms’ night, Karen Freeman, thinks schools do a decent job to reach out to expecting students, but says they may be fighting a losing battle from the beginning. Education isn’t a priority for most of the mothers she’s met over the past eight years, especially those who themselves are coming from single parent households.

Repeats and the stats
“The pattern just repeats itself,” Freeman said. “And a lot of times, it’s not a matter “if they’ll have a baby,” it’s “when they’ll have a baby”, so it’s just a given. The girls’ worlds are so small that they don’t realize there’s more than just what’s in their bubble.” Kathleen Clement said she’s determined to return to break the cycle and finish her high school education at some point.

But the odds are still against her. Only 38 percent of moms who have a child before age 18 earn their high school diploma by age 22, and less than 2 percent earn a college degree by age 30, according to data from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. And while Clement’s dream job is to be a psychologist, she sheepishly nods her head while admitting that’s a lot of schooling.

So in the meantime, she focuses her energy on the big dreams she has for her little girl. “I hope she likes to read books,” Clement said. “I hope she likes to watch documentaries. I just hope she has her values and she sticks to them.” For StateImpact Ohio, I’m Amy Hansen.

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Backers of legalizing marijuana in Ohio promise to be back in 2016
We should be aloud to grow more than 4 plants and not have to register with the state considering it will be a free market.

Akron says it's had no second thoughts about welcoming refugees
What business does Councilman Neal own on North Hill? I'd love to support him. I am so glad to have the refugees in our neighborhood. I have lived here for 25 ...

Scarborough says the University of Akron is trying to rebuild relationships
In order for the University of Akron to grow and become a desirable place for students across Ohio and elsewhere, it must address the crime problem in the Akron...

Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite wants to end pay-to-play sports fees at Ohio's schools
You can bet Hite and Husted will also rush to the rescue of the Academic Challenge team, the speech-and-debate squad, the Science Olympians and the chess club. ...

Ohio lawmakers consider new gun bills
States that have gun restrictions/cities have reduced gun violence is false. CHICAGO has some of the toughest gun laaws/restrictions but yet fun violence is off...

Cleveland's public transit system considers fare increase for 2016
I work with individuals with disabilities. Yes some of my folks need more help than the average person. As a whole, the group I work with however can manuver ju...

Community group sues to re-open part of Wadsworth hospital
My father was part of the founding group of citizens which started the "new" Wadsworth/Rittman Hospital. For some reason the leadership for the future of the ho...

The Cleveland Museum of Art presents painters who loved their gardens
brilliant masterpiece, Greetings from

Ohio Sen. Tom Patton proposes bill for firefighter cancer benefits
Thank you Senator Patton. On behalf of all of those who love our firefighters; we appreciate that someone is standing up for them and their continued health. ??...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University