School and peer pressure are just a few of the challenges all teens face. Some students, however, must deal with more than the difficulties of just being a kid: they also need to raise one.
Last August, student Marianne Demelletes gave birth to a baby girl at the age of 16 before her the start of her junior year. “Since I gave birth the challenge I’ve faced the most is criticism. A lot of people judge me for being a mother at such a young age, ” Demelletes said. “They call me a slut and say that she’s from another dad, just all types of different lies to get in my head and see when I’m gonna give up.”
To accommodate student parents in the county, MCPS provides teen parent support groups in every high school, led by school nurses and assisted MCPS staff. The groups meet during school days and consist of teen parents or teens that are pregnant and have discussion that allows students to share their experiences.
“We understand that pregnancy at a young age can be hard so [the school] tries to support student parents as much as possible and give them information to help them,” Counselor Dolores Reyna said.
Some student parents like Demelletes choose a more alternative and independent way to raise their children. However, while pregnant, she met with her school nurse who gave her information to support groups and discussed the pros and cons of her pregnancy.
Demelletes continues to receive support from her friends and both her and her boyfriend’s family, but urges other students to be cautious when they have sex. “I want others to know that they should use protection at all times even if they’re on birth control.”
According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy, the U.S. pregnancy rate among girls between 15 and 19 year old was 26.6 births for every 1,000 in 2013. While this rate has declined since 1991 when it was 117 births for every 1,000 teens between the same ages, the challenges of teen pregnancy still persist.
While MCPS provides programs and nurses who work with teen parents, the attitudes of others towards these students remains a challenge. “During pregnancy MCPS understood what I was going through and helped me out a lot,” Demelletes said. “But post-pregnancy some of the teachers have no care and seem to judge me and look at me like I ruined my life.”
Nonetheless, Demelletes notes the importance of keeping an upbeat attitude. “If you do get pregnant don’t think of the negative. Think positive and about the good things that the future holds for you and your child. Pregnancy at a young age doesn’t mean your life is over.”
Article by the MoCo Student Staff Writer Lillian Andemicael of Rockville High School
Graphic by the MoCo Student Graphic Artist Claudia Espinoza of Richard Montgomery High School