In our last post we talked about the two Texas high school programs created by state child support officials that are designed to educate teenagers on the financial and legal responsibilities of teen parenthood. The two programs, Parenting and Paternity Awareness and No Kidding are not designed to educate teenagers on sex. The child support division of the Attorney General’s office created the programs to have a family oriented approach to the child-support process and to ensure that teenage parents keep up with their child support responsibilities.
Texas has one of the highest teen birth rates in the country with 63.4 births per 1,000 girls and comes in third after Mississippi and New Mexico. Both programs incorporate the real life experience of current teenage parents. The 14 hours of the Parenting and Paternity Awareness program is divided among 14 different units. The units are comprised of exercises, quizzes and games that are rooted in the issues of teenage pregnancy. In one exercise students discussed their ideas of marriage and gender roles. One of the points of the program is to show that fathers are not only supposed to contribute financially but should also be co-parents with the mother of their child.
The No Kidding class solely focuses on the experiences of teenage parents. One teenage dad explained to a class that as soon as he got his paycheck it was gone to pay for diapers, wipes, formula, clothing and car seats. Another teenage dad said that he had to “get over himself” pretty quick to start meeting the needs of his child. Both programs have got teenagers thinking about life choices and what would happen if they became parents.
The programs have been so successful in Texas that other states and cities are starting their own programs. States like Georgia, Ohio and Arkansas, and cities like New York City and Los Angeles are developing their own style of programs based on the Texas programs. Commenting on becoming a father, a teenager says, “Now that I have a baby, I realize how grown up I wasn’t.”
Source: USA Today, “Teen Parents Talk Legal, Financial Consequences of Sex,” Sharon Jayson, 12/14/10