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Teen Pregnancy

Mon, 6 May 2013|

-Three in 10 girls get pregnant at least once before the age of 20. That means 750,000 teen girls will become pregnant each year. The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy and birth among comparable countries. Parenthood is the leading reason why teen girls drop out of high school. Less than half of them will get their high school diploma and fewer than 2 percent will get their college degree before the age of 30. About, I think, it's 50 percent of teens don't even consider the consequences of having a child because they just-- it doesn't seem like a reality to them. And when it does become a reality, they have no idea what goes into having a child. One Life to Live is a great example of a TV show that is telling the teen pregnancy story in the right way because they're telling it through Starr Manning, a 16-year-old girl who gets pregnant by her boyfriend, Cole. -Hey, Cole, come here. -They kind of get caught up in their feelings and one thing leads to another, and Starr and Cole have sex. They weren't expecting to do it, but their emotions got to them, which happens on a daily basis in real life. As soon as I found out about the storyline, I was kind of scared and nervous because, you know, it's such a big issue out there right now. -I'm 16, and I'm pregnant. I just wished that we would have had a conversation. We never would have talked about it that you would want a company. -A lot of people think that the first time that you have sex even without protection that you can't get pregnant, and that's not true at all, and Starr's case just proves that. -It's being told in a very realistic way. She's going back to high school. She's dealing with kids making fun of her because she's a teen mom. She's dealing with the principal wanting to kick her out of school because they think it's a bad example to set for the other students. -I'm seriously thinking about all of my options. I don't know if I'm going to be a mother. My name is Starr Manning, and I have an appointment. I'm here to have an abortion. -So starting guys on 191 as we see, Starr-- -It becomes very realistic and all of the people, all of the cast and the crew that I've worked with since I was like 6 and half years old, they know me since then. So, it's scary for them to see me like that, and they're like, "Oh no, my little girl," and you know, it's been hard for me to portray that because I'm not really pregnant. So even holding the pregnancy test for the first time in front of all the crew members, I kind of got embarrassed, and I was like, "I'm gonna put it down 'cause I'm really young to be holding this pregnancy test." With finding out that Starr was gonna be pregnant, I didn't know whether she was going to end up having the baby. Usually, in storylines on soap operas, they end up losing their baby. I found out a couple of weeks later that they really wanted to stick through it and show a real-- you know, as much as they could-- a real-life pregnancy. -Shows like that are a great opportunity for parents to talk to their kids, to watch with their kids, and to, you know, kind of open up the dialogue about sex and pregnancy. -This week is when the principal doesn't want Starr at school. -Why does Blair and Starr blame Todd for Starr's decisions to have sex with Cole and unprotected? -One life to Live actually came to the campaign because they were thinking about doing a story about teen pregnancy storyline with one of their teen characters, Starr Manning, and so the campaign was able to work with them. The actress that portrays Starr Manning, Kristen Alderson, has a blog. -The blog is on OneLifetoLive.com, and it's called Talk with Kristen, and I started it the minute that Starr and Cole had sex that week, and we do it every-- I do it every single Friday and it's about, you know, Starr's experiences and what happened during that week on the show, and then kind of how I'm feeling about taping those scenes or different points that I feel, you know, weren't expressed in the scene that I really wanna dive into. -Blog number 30. -30? -30. -Blog number 30. Oh my gosh. See-- -What some of their comments were. -Okay, so we'll do part of the blog on the comment. -And then I think the rest of it, we should talk about what Starr goes through this week when she's at school and her principal doesn't-- -The responses to the blogs have been amazing. This one girl wrote to me, she was 18, and she had already had 2 children, and she said if your storyline had taken place 2 years ago, my life would have been completely different. I think the most healthy thing to do in this situation is to talk things out. I feel like so happy at the end of the day, if I'm aggravated or anything, and I can just go to my mom and tell her everything, and then I feel settled and I feel all right, and I think that if, you know, more teenagers and parents did that, then I think that that would even help out with teen pregnancy. -Our campaign has specific tips and resources so that parents can get back conversation started and you can find them on www.thenationalcampaign.org. Three out of four teens agree that when a TV character experiences teen pregnancy, it makes them think more about the consequences of sex, which is why it's so important that shows like One Life to Live portray a teen pregnancy storyline in an honest and open way because it opens up a dialogue between teens and their friends and their parents to talk about sex. The bottom line is that teen pregnancy is 100 percent preventable. You can either abstain from sex or you can use protection every single time. It's a problem that definitely can be solved, and the more attention it gets, the better.