I was a teenage mom
A Child Having A Child: A story of Denise Ramos and Nijear Howard
Created by Denise Ramos, Ellie Markovitch, Cindy Khoo, Andrew Lynn, Nijear Howard, and Branda Miller. A Youth Media Sanctuary project with NY Media Alliance and the Missing Link Street Ministry. First shown at the NY Shout Out Youth Media Film Festival, June 5, 2010.
Even though the number of young girls who get pregnant has been decreasing since the late 80′s and 90′s, teenagers still see teen pregnancy everywhere—in society, in their schools, and in the media.
That’s why Denise Ramos worked with the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY to create a video documentary called “A Child Having a Child.”
“I saw so many people pregnant,” she says, “so I made a video about me because I had my son at fourteen. I wanted to send a message to young teens.”
“A girl who becomes pregnant at a young age is definitely going to face some challenges that her peers without kids might not face,” says Meaghan Carroll, director of education at Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood in Albany, NY.
Completing school seems to be one of the biggest challenges. It is also one of the biggest determinants of future success, says Carroll.
Citing a March 2010 study, “Why it Matters,” published by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (NCPTP), Carroll explains that children of teen mothers who aren’t married and don’t finish high school are nine times more likely to live in poverty than a child who doesn’t have those three factors.
The same study reports that sons of teen mothers are two times more likely to end up in prison than the sons of mothers aged 20-21. Daughters of young teen mothers are three times more likely to become teen mothers themselves when compared to mothers who had a child at age 20-21.
After Ramos became pregnant, she had a Teenage Opportunity Program worker, an advocate who helps pregnant teens for the first two years of their child’s life. The worker took Ramos to doctor’s appointments and parenting classes, and told her where to go to get information she needed.
“Providing programs and opportunities that will support a teen who decides to parent and having those things in place so that they’re able to continue their education gives them a shot at getting the skills and support they need to parent well,” says Carroll. “There are programs that include young males too, giving them the same things that you give to moms.”
Ramos also attended School 1, an alternative school in Troy, NY.
“Kids that got kicked out of Troy High School went to School 1—and pregnant teens. When I first started going to School 1, it was hard because I thought people were judging me,” says Ramos. “But when I saw that other teens like me were there and we had groups where we talked about what it was like going through pregnancy, having a child and what we wanted to do as we got older, I felt better about it”
The most difficult part about being a teen mom for Ramos was trying to concentrate in school while her son went to daycare. “I didn’t feel comfortable leaving my child with someone I didn’t know. Najear was only six-weeks -old.”
Ramos tried to go back to Troy High School, but decided to go to the access center to get her GED instead. Ramos says that being back at Troy High was when she realized that because she was a mom, she wasn’t a teen anymore.
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