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Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY —
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Teen mother at Russell County High School expecting second child before she turns 17
In Apr. 3-9 issue
By Kim Graham
Times Journal Reporter


Her course seemed charted early in life for a meeting with destiny as the mother of two at 17 years of age.

She asked not to be identified so she is referred to simply as Jane Doe.
Teen pregnancy is very prevalent among today's society, not just in Russell County but also in all of the US. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in the US around 750,000 teenagers will get pregnant every year.

Studies also show that about 25 percent of adolescent mothers will have a second child within 24 months of the first.

A 16-year-old mother and student at Russell County High School, Jane Doe has a 14-month-old son. Her second child is due before she turns 17.

The father of her children is a 20-year-old Russell County resident.

According to a 2004 study, about 30 percent of teenage pregnancies could be prevented if young women were not exposed to abuse, violence and family strife.

Jane Doe said she remembers having to leave her bedroom at her grandma's house when her mother snuck men in through the child's bedroom window.

Researchers say family dysfunction accounts for long lasting unfavorable health consequences for women in their adolescent years and beyond.

Studies have found that the highest rates of early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy occur in girls whose fathers left the family earlier in their lives.

At age 9, Jane Doe's father died. Without a father as a role model, she was again statistically more susceptible to becoming a teen mother.

Jane Doe grew up young and took on many adult responsibilities including being a mother to her siblings.

"I have a younger brother and two younger half sisters," said Jane Doe. "Mom wasn't around and she did drugs a lot so I had to take care of them.

"Grandma said I was more of a mother to my brother and sisters than their mother," said Jane Doe.

Eventually, she was separated from many of her closest family members, even the siblings she had cared for as if they were her own children.

Her two of her younger siblings now live with their father, who is not Jane's father.

Due to her mother's life style and alleged drug use, Jane Doe and her brother were sent to live with their grandparents.

"Grandma has had custody of me since third grade and she had custody of my brother since before she had me," Jane Doe said.

Another factor that contributes to teen pregnancy, particularly when parents are unavailable, is the influence of peers on a teen's decision making process.

By virtue of their inexperience and immaturity, young people tend not to see the long term picture and the consequences of their actions.

By the time Jane Doe entered high school, many in her peer group were already parents.

"Most of my friends had kids before I did," said Jane Doe.

"There is a breakdown of the family and very much an acceptance of teen pregnancy in society that contributes to the high rate of adolescent pregnancy," said Lake Cumberland Region Health Department Health Educator Shirley Roberson.

Roberson said adolescents can't see realistically what they are facing down the road. Many, she said, focus on how wonderful it is going to be to have this beautiful baby who they can love and who they believe will love them.

Once the emotional consequences, commitments of child rearing and financial responsibilities become reality, many teen mothers drop out of school.

Studies show only about one third of all teenagers who have a baby will receive a high school diploma.

Although Jane Doe quit school last year after her son was born, she went to summer school to catch up.

"My mom said to stay in school," said Jane Doe. "As long as I did that she'd be happy."

This year Jane Doe plans to continue school after her second child's birth and finish up the year as a home-bound student.

"Homebound services are provided to students when a doctor recommends it due to health reasons or during the first 6 to 8 weeks after the birth of their baby," said Adair County Schools Assistant Superintendent of Students, Brenda Mann.

Jane Doe dreams of being a pediatrician and plans to continue her education after high school.

She doesn't know where she'll go to college but says it will be somewhere close to home. However, she says she hasn't met with counselors at school about planning her future.

Over all, her experience as a child seems to have influenced her to want a better life for herself and her children.

"I watched my mom and saw what drugs do to people and what it did to us," said Jane Doe. "We never had a mom really."

Her desire to have a family of her own is possibly a life created in some way to mend her past.

She says she has much continued support from her fiancÚ and her grandparents but wants little contact with her mother.

"I don't have anything to do with my mom," Jane Doe said. "I don't want people like that around my kids."

Society as a whole may have become more accepting of issues once frowned upon, but some have not changed their beliefs.

"Some teachers talk about how they don't approve (of teen pregnancy)," said Jane Doe. "Some people have put me down."

In some beliefs, teen pregnancy is taboo and in others it may be discouraged but not disapproved. Most of Jane Doe's family is happy about her early pregnancies.

"They were all happy about the baby," said Jane Doe. "Especially my great-grandma because it is the fifth generation and she thought she might not live to see that."

"My pregnancy wasn't planned but I wouldn't take it back," said Jane Doe. "I might have waited if I knew that my great grandparents would be here. They're real excited to see the fifth generation."

Jane Doe, her son, and the babies' father currently live with her grandparents.

The babies' father works in construction and is remodeling a house for himself, Jane and the children to move into.

The couple plans to be married when she gets out of school.
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