Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Birth leave sought for girls

This story is from the Denver Post, and asks for 4 weeks maternity leave for pregnant students.

Pregnant students in a Denver high school are asking for at least four weeks of maternity leave so they can heal, bond with their newborns and not be penalized with unexcused absences.

The request is unusual in Colorado's public schools, where districts tend to deal with pregnant students or new moms with specialized programs or individualized education plans.

Denver Public Schools has no districtwide policy, leaving it up to schools to work out plans for students to continue their education.

Two counselors from East High School approached the school board last month, saying the policy at their school is unfair and inconsiderate because it forces new moms to return to school the day after being discharged from the hospital or face being charged with unexcused absences.

"My initial reaction is if we are punishing girls like that, that is unacceptable," said Nicole Head, one of the counselors who brought the matter to the school board last month. "We've got to do something."

East High School administrators could not be reached for comment over the winter break, but district officials say they are reviewing the policy on absences to make it "friendlier" to new moms, said DPS spokesman Alex Sanchez.

There is constantly a push to make society bend and react to help reduce the negative consequences of bad behavior. I agree that these girls, if they do decide to carry their babies to term and raise them up themselves, need time to heal and bond with their babies. However, bonding isn't enough. These girls need maturity and these babies need both parents and a stable, loving home.

High school diplomas should be available for these girls, but that doesn't mean that society has to make extra efforts to ensure that it is easy for these girls. It's not easy. That's a fact of life. Once you have a baby, its not easy to finish school, to go to work, to put food on the table, to put a roof over your family's head, etc. That's why you wait to engage in behaviors that can cause pregnancy until you're mature enough to be ready to deal with the lifestyle that is part of having a family.

Colorado is one of the states that has refused federal funding for abstinence-only education this year. We'll have to see how "comprehensive sex education" coupled with maternity leave and day care affects the teen pregnancy rate in Denver in the years to come. We should pray for these girls and these babies who have a tough row to hoe for perhaps the rest of their lives due to some poor decisions made by teenage kids.

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