to prevent teenagers’ pregnancy
Theological Analysis Project
paper consists of the following sections:
refer to Attachment 1. Resource
and roadblock of Ann’s case are below:
White girl aged 19.
Education: special education child. Family:
parents and sisters still treat Ann as a child, but Ann is becoming a
parent, without figuring out who would be the baby’s father.
Communication between Ann and her parents/sisters rarely occurs.
Community support: None, Ann never joins any group, nor does she
attend any church. Work:
Ann’s part-time job of assembly-line work, manual labor requires
no communication with other human beings.
Friend: No girl friend
right now, because Tina left one year ago.
Three men came to see her, but no one right now.
Marital status: Single.
Religion: Non-active Irish Catholic.
Character: Emotionally very active, showing anger quickly, not
friendly at all. Envious of
her sisters’ lives/education. Self-esteem:
very low. She never
says to me “lonely,” however, considering the above mentioned
conditions, I think she must be very lonely at present as well as in the
Ann’s news of her becoming pregnant triggered me to think about what kind of teenage girls want to get pregnant. Why do they hasten to become “young mother-to-be”? What kind of causes coming from American culture can I find to make teenage girls get pregnant? I also wonder If a foreign student or teenager who begins to learn American English happens to know the facts of “teenage pregnancy in the U.S.,” how might that American news influence the foreign student’s feelings and impressions of American culture?
In order to obtain up-to-date information on teenage pregnancy, I used the Internet search and found the following data. And also I have tried to listen to the radio more often to get the latest news.
Special education programs-based adolescent pregnancy has increased:
Based on an article in Pediatrics, Feb. 2001, “Care of Adolescent
Parents and Their Children,” low intellectual ability or functioning
creates a serious risk for pregnancy and dropping out of school at earlier
ages than adolescents in regular schools.
It is suggested that school-based care for special education
adolescents is needed, including sexuality education, discussions on
safety for the adolescent mother, and her child along with task-oriented
skills to improve the adolescent’s self-esteem.
Abused boys have potential of becoming “adolescent fathers”:
Based on Pediatrics, Feb. 2001, with the title of “Abused Boys,
Battered Mothers, and Male Involvement in Teen Pregnancy,” sexual abuse
experience as a boy under ten years old (a) increased the risk of
impregnating a teenage girl by 80%, and (b) increased the risk of sexual
abuse with violence by 110%.
Necessary to teach teens that pregnancy/parenthood is not in their best
interest!: The Newsletter
of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, summer 2001, reported
one intensive program combining sex education, comprehensive health care,
and activities, particularly in tutoring, showed an impact on sexual and
contraceptive behavior, pregnancy, and births among girls for three years.
Accordingly, family planning clinics could prevent teen
No talk of sex between parents and children in American families:
According to Conrad and Milburn, even in American families
(compared to Japanese families where no talk is exchanged between parents
and children) “they do not talk about sex” (2001: 17).
Therefore, they “distinguish between culturally normal and what
feels right to us as individuals” (2001: 38).
Children tend to acquire “a haphazard education from their peers
and from the media” (2001: 70). In
order to become a sexually intelligent person, they recommend that we have
the ability to replace media’s information with scientific knowledge
about sexuality. An excellent
example was introduced with a very honest mother who wanted to talk openly
about sexuality with her children. As
a result, her son said, “My mother knew that I would make the right
decision” (2001: 70). The
authors of the book called Sexual Intelligence consider that
popular culture offers a skewed view of sexuality effecting negatively on
ordinary people’s judgment of their own bodies and of their
Adult’s discrepancy influences teenagers’ sexuality:
A Christian radio program called “Focus on the Family,” under
Dr. James Dobson, the founder and president of the organization, which has
been campaigning “Real love can wait!” to prevent teenagers’
pregnancy, announced the sudden resignation of his assistant because of
his double life disclosed by the media.
Sexually sensitive books chosen as high school textbook:
According to a radio talk show of WRKO, one of the teachers in
Newton selected a sexually sensitive book as reading materials during
summer vacation for his high school students who are expected to prepare
for MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) test.
The hosts of the talk show said, “Should that teacher be put in
jail? Or it is o.k. to let high school students understand what sex
is all about. Because we need
to let students know sexuality.”
More than 60% of Latino girls are pregnant by age 20:
Based on a report in Advertising Age, April 16, 2001, parents are
advised to talk openly with their children to prevent teen pregnancies.
Campaign of “Sex has consequences”:
Based on a report in Advertising Age, Oct. 23, 2000, sexually
active teens need some shock with provocative words, i.e., useless,
reject, and dirty.
Need to get kids attention: Based
on the Washington Post, Oct. 16, 2000, traditional sex education which
uses esteem-building phrases, i.e., “Respect yourself” or “Protect
your dreams,” should be changed to make kids think “What could happen
to them” through creating “Feel-Bad Ads,” because “Feel-good”
ads do not work for contemporary teenagers.
Current teenagers want to know “What is the truth,” and “What
is fair or not fair.” It is
stated that, in order to change some teens’ behavior, “Timing is
critical in terms of creating a new social norm, and we may be at that
Stopping kids from having kids:
Based on U.S. News & World Report, May 5, 1997, four of every
ten American women are pregnant by age 20, the highest ratio of any
industrialized country. The
private National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, in April 2001, sets
its target to cut teen pregnancy by a third over the next eight years.
As a good example, in the state of Oregon, teen pregnancy lowered
about 75% between 1990 and 1994 by churches’ preaching abstinence and
clinics’ distributing contraceptives.
A new poll shows the majority of Americans favoring teenagers’
“Don’t mention sex at all” worked well:
Based on Time, June 11, 2001, contrary to the concern of parents,
sex education does not hasten the onset of sexual activity, because of the
following programs: tutoring for youths, volunteer activities, and not to
mention sex at all.
wonder what might be the hidden agenda to make people separately treat
girls from boys. Now, let’s move on to how to define cognitive abilities of
gender influencing teenagers
under various social settings, particularly at school.
What are cognitive abilities? Human beings have a long history of trying to demonstrate male intellectual superiority. But, what is intelligence?
According to Dina Anselmi and Anne Law,
intelligence is multi-dimensional cognitive abilities with the following
elements: (1) how to measure cognitive abilities: to study sex differences has been
controversial. Because in
American culture, sex differences favoring males are exaggerated, whereas,
female’s favoring differences are ignored.
For example, verbal ability favoring females is not reported in
comparison to male’s poor ability in public speaking.
However, other research claims no difference at all between male
and female, by looking at other aspects of verbal ability.
If sex differences in cognitive ability are discovered, these
findings might be used to discriminate against women; (2) How much does
Society relate to teenagers? Who
decides sex differences? Or
why are sex differences translated into deficiency?
A hidden power in society manipulates
how to value sex differences. As
we cannot create a new society overnight, the history of how society
determined sex differences in the past cannot be ignored, i.e., patriarchy
and power asymmetry between male and female were facts; (3) Biological
Account: Sex hormones trigger
physical and sexual dimorphism. Throughout
an individual life, particularly how environmental factors (prenatal and
postnatal stress) might influence hormone production and cognition
performance; and (4) Essentialists view ability as a quality in
individuals expressed as an aptitude, whereas social constructionists see
ability as individual’s achievement through experiences.
How brain relates to sex differences?
Kimura’s theory of sex-dimorphic brain organization (1992) means
that men and women go through the different evolutionary pressures when
they experience sex selection.
Buss, an evolutionary psychologist, sex differences are mainly the
result of sexual selection (1995).
We should not over-interpret many theories, due to too much conflicting evidence. The crucial question is: How does cognitive functioning relate to sex differences? The answer might relate to history: how human beings have taken for granted the traditional difference of male/female.
What should we learn from the mistakes in the past? In order to really measure cognitive ability, we need to develop both theoretical and real-life validity. The lesson we should learn from the examples listed below is the lack of full investigation, or of “what we should have done in the past.”
Asian American women as an oppressed history:
Based on E. Disch, exotic stereotypes toward Asian American women
still remain as an example of dehumanized history in the U.S.
They have been the target of “hate rape” and this was not fully
investigated by the government authorities.
For example, in 1984, Ms. Cheung, a nineteen-year-old Chinese woman
seven months pregnancy, was pushed in front of a subway train in New York,
or in 1985, an eight-year-old Chinese girl was raped in Chapel Hill, North
Carolina, at the time when Penthouse published Asian women’s pictures.
Some classroom teachers trying to practice equity and also to teach it:
Based on research done by Peggy Orenstein, some fascinating
teachers try to change both boys’ and girls’ perspectives on the
female self, or challenge to revise the curriculum to provide students
with both a window and a mirror: to look into others’ worlds as well as
to scrutinize their own race and gender.
Who are the invisible members of classroom?:
Based on Myra and David Sadker, female students are invisible
compared with the lion’s share of boys, because teachers focus on more
male students with their helpful feedback.
As a result, girls are second-class educational citizens, but
education is not a spectator sport. Under
hidden sexist lessons, girls’ gifts are lost to society, increasing
their depression, and lowering their self-esteem.
Individualism accelerates psychological intimacy:
Karen and Kenneth Dion, in comparison between individualistic and
collectivistic perspectives on gender and the cultural context of love and
intimacy, state, “If some aspects of traditionally collectivistic
societies change in the direction of greater individualism, the importance
of psychological intimacy in marriage for marital satisfaction and
personal well-being will increase” (1999: 529).
More than media-based cognitive gender differences:
Diane Halpern states that media headlines on cognitive gender
difference are not enough, because “other variables, i.e., ethnicity,
age, socioeconomic status, native language, educational level, life
experiences, nutrition, and the biology of femaleness/maleness” (1999:
Equal recognition of both boys and girls:
Susan Bailey states, “Gender equitable education is more than
equal access for girls to the opportunities boys enjoy.
Achieving gender equity in education means equally recognizing and
rewarding the achievements of both boys and girls” (1999: 461).
The reason for her saying this is that the majority of research on
classroom interaction show the patterns of middle-class White students.
Gender-equity issues on various forms of assessment have not often
been investigated so far.
Gender is manipulated by society and culture:
Ansalmi and Law believe that gender is rooted in society, culture,
and social stereotypes, and created from and/or developed by “gendered
institutions such as school” (1999: 433).
They offer to restructure our gender schemas by applying Bem’s
idea of “individual differences” in 1993.
Gendered personality is both process and product:
Sandra Bem states that people grow up in a limited culture and by
the time they reach adulthood, they become ready to look at themselves
through the androcentric and gender-polarizing lenses expecting everything
consistent with those lenses as normal and natural, if not, or something
inconsistent with those lenses, people consider it as alien or foreign or
a problem to understand. Therefore,
gendered personality is both process and product based on conventional
women and men with limited themselves to have only half of their potential
by “nonconsciously imposing a gender-based classification on social
reality” (1993: 154). She
further claims that gender depolarization would require not only a social
revolution (rearranging social institutions and reframing cultural
discourses), but also a psychological revolution in individuals’ inner
self of who we are and what we are. Psychological
revolution would ask us to see the biological fact either male or female
in “much the same way that we now view the biological fact of being human”
(1993: 196). Finally, Bem
states that “Biological sex would no longer be at the core of individual
identity and sexuality” (1993: 196).
Bem’s lecture to her own children on sexuality:
At the earliest possible age, Bem tried to teach her children that
“being a boy means having a penis and testicles; being a girl means
having a vagina, a clitoris, and a uterus; and whether you’re a boy or a
girl, a man or a woman, doesn’t need to matter unless and until you want
to make a baby” (1993: 149). I
am very much impressed by her lecture.
Having learned contemporary and historical aspects on sexuality, I
would like to take the next step to compare between Bowen’s theory and
Minuchin’s strategies on how to help solve family problems.
The scale of differentiation of the family systems theory which measures emotional separation from one’s family of origin, has the following four classifications: 0 to 25, 25 to 50, 50 to 75, and 75 and 100.
Regarding the relationship between the above scale and one’s behavior, Bowen’s family theory written by Kerr and Bowen (1988) stated that:
Then “courage” is required for someone wishing to differentiate, as stated below:
individuality vs. freedom,
can someone with differentiation influence others?
Regarding how to solve family problems, Salvador Minuchin, who studied Bowen theory more than 30 years ago and has been advocating structural and process-oriented experiential system including all the members of the family, stressed the importance of strategies on relationship, distance, proximity, coalitions, and alliances. Minuchin considers the family organism as a structure which is needed to clarify, for example, affiliation of X and Y excluding Z, and coalition of X and Y against Z. All examples in his latest book show us how important it is to physically sit down in a room where all members of the family get together, and they discuss their problems “face-to-face,” whenever one/some of them feels distance or is isolated from other members of the family. I can understand how much highly he values the process of such an interaction to seek for mutually acceptable goals as the outcome.
In order to bridge between family-focused theories and their application in our real life, I wish to revisit Ann’s situation.
Regarding Ann’s case, I believe that education and replacement are the key to prevent teens’ unexpected pregnancy. Education means at school and at home. Replacement refers to giving girls/boys alternatives from which they can spend their time in constructive ways, along with making them openly extend to wider perspectives toward their life.
Before acting out her pregnancy, Ann needed a tutor and/or counselor to help her develop various kinds of coping skills, right after she learned of her sister’s pregnancy. At this point, Bowen’s differentiation would be of a good help to develop her self-esteem. To avoid an Ann-like copy in the near future, I would like to suggest the following chart to let teenagers reflectively look at themselves, and then to succinctly express/write their own feelings and concerns, which would help them see their own personal or inner problems and eventually help them solve problems and/or develop self-esteem.
and who filled out the sheet: ____
AM/PM. Name: ______
Why should I get angry?
Why should I feel envy
What do I suffer? And
What makes me lonely?
Where has my own self-esteem gone?
When did I feel serene?
Can I have a hot line with God to receive His wisdom?
How do I evaluate my own education?
How far have I done as an independent worker?
unfinished business: What
are my broken dreams?
future life: How can I
create my own niche for my future life?
with my parents: How much
have I told them my deep seated struggles?
How much do they understand my present problems?
with my brothers/sisters: Why
cannot I tell my honest feelings?
above sheet should also be filled out by her parents and brothers/sisters.
sheet for Ann
and who filled out the sheet: __
AM/PM. Name: _____
Comparison of different persons’ views
parents’ view Her
relationship with her parents:
relationship with her brothers/sisters:
Ideally, prior to the first meeting between the family and a
counselor/therapist, these filled-out forms are expected to be read by a
counselor/therapist as reference or preparation for that meeting.
Or, if possible, all the members of the family could get together
and exchange the written form in order to figure out their gaps of
understanding toward Ann. A complete form of evaluation of all people involved would be
like the one listed below:
sheet for Ann
and who filled out the sheet: __
AM/PM. Name: _____
Comparison of different persons’ views
parents’ view Her
relationship with her parents:
relationship with her brothers/sisters:
A counselor/therapist would have a meeting individually with Ann to help her develop self-esteem and differentiation; with her parents to help reevaluate Ann who is no longer a “Child!”; and/or with her brothers/sisters to help brainstorm how to deal with Ann’s problem.
For mutually acceptable future benefit, a meeting with all family members as an application of Minuchin’s theory would be recommended for exchanging ideas honestly to solve Ann’s problems after learning her pregnancy, and/or to think about how to prevent Ann’s wishing to become a pregnant teen, just before her acting out actual pregnancy. Since family-related problems are complicated, there would be no end to them as long as we live with other people. Our creative approach to family problems would be to make us be ready for the test of our capacity/ability meaning whether or not we have the courage of using problems as the opportunities to develop much better human relationship from today to tomorrow.” I believe that flexibility of the relationship balance is the key to maintain good and long-term relationship among people.
Who feels the pain? Who suffers? Who experiences suffering? Ann and other teenagers who relate to pregnancy might appear to be the victims of contemporary skewed value systems. They experience suffering and pain. Accordingly, theological approach would be helpful to make them become aware of What God says, particularly on suffering and freedom in order to reduce their suffering by applying choice on their own.
with reference to the women who had been burned at the stake for
witchcraft, claimed that “God coexperienced her childhood, her teen
years, and every moment of her adult life.
God coexperienced her fright just as she felt it when she heard the
frenzy in the voices of her neighbors discussing witchcraft” (1989:
210). Therefore, Suchocki
stated that “The woman must feel herself in God through God’s own
consciousness” (1989: 210). Suchocki
continued saying that,
focused on the importance of prayer to receive God’s guidance as stated
urged the importance of taking care of disadvantaged/poor persons as
stated below that a real Christian’s faith would relate to grace:
to Tillich, his explanation of suffering and loneliness is that:
also focused on subjective and objective sides of suffering below:
Suchocki focused on the unity in God, whereas Rahner emphasized on faith/grace, and Tillich emphasized on transformation into blessedness.
to Suchocki,”We dare to say that God is the great redeemer, forgiving
and restoring us in order that we might achieve a destiny beyond our
failure” (1989: 5). And
there is freedom as stated below:
on Rahner, “Freedom has still not become something that can be taken for
granted, something no longer capable of stimulating any movement”
(1993:175), because of freedom’s being considered as a relative concept
to the sum, total. He
added that contemporary human beings enjoy a particular freedom without
recognizing their current situation as the result of freedom and
creativity of those who overcame economic and cultural chaos.
Then Rahner stated below:
Rahner concluded below freedom as finalizing self-mastery of the subject:
Tillich, through treating experience as the medium, not the
source for the contents of systematic theology, stated “God is infinite
freedom, man is finite freedom. It
is finite freedom which makes possible the transition from essence to
existence” (1967: 31 of volume two).
Tillich continued on freedom below:
concluded the concept of freedom as stated below:
accepted freedom depending on a person.
Rahner suggested people to value today’s freedom as the
contribution of people in the past. Tillich
mentioned divine blessedness along with freedom/responsibility.
Suggestions from the three theologians to Ann
Suchocki might suggest that God is the great redeemer. Ann has choices from which she could choose, but she did not have ability to choose the best one, so she became pregnant. Rahner might say that God did not help her go into such a terrible unexpected pregnancy, however, because of her poor education and social situation which makes her lonely, she became pregnant. Tillich might state, “Please accept the fact that you are accepted, even though you face an unexpected pregnancy. Remember we are all children of God who unconditionally loves every one of us, regardless of all our warts and imperfections, in order to bring hope and the strength to change our situation.”
D. and Law. A. (Eds.) 1999. Questions of Gender: Perspectives &
S. 1999. “The Current Status of Gender Equity: Research in American
S. 1993. The Lenses of Gender: Transforming the debate on sexual
inequality. New Haven. Yale University Press.
D. 1995. “Psychological sex differences: Origins through sexual
S. and Milburn, M. 2001. Sexual Intelligence. Crown Publishers.
K. and Dion, K. 1999. “Individualistic and Collectivistic Perspectives
D. 1999. “Cognitive Gender Differences: Why Diversity Is a Critical
M. and Bowen, M. 1988. Family Evaluation. W.W. Norton &
D. 1992. “sex differences in the brain.” Scientific American.
P. 1999. “Anita Hill Is a Boy: Tales from a Gender-Fair Classroom.”
In Anselmi, D. and Law. A. (Eds.) 1999. Questions of Gender:
Perspectives & Paradoxes. McGraw Hill. Boston.
K. 1993. Content of Faith. Crossroad.
M. and David Sadker. 1994. Failing at Fairness. Charles
M. 1989. God, Christ, Church. Crossroad.
P. 1967. Systematic Theology. Volume, 1, 2, and 3.
Attachment 1. A case, my neighbor Ann
was almost two years ago that two girls, Tina and Ann, moved into the
apartment where I live. We
were under the same roof so that we came to share the same common places
of the apartment such as the kitchen, dining room, and another room with
sofas and a table. They were
on the second floor, whereas, I am on the first floor.
Tina is very friendly and introduced herself and told me a lot
about her relationship with Ann, i.e., Ann and Tina were roommates of
Lesley College-based Special Education Program. Ann is different because she is neither friendly nor open-minded.
Both Ann and Tina have Irish background.
I have recognized that Ann never says, “Hi!” to other members of the apartment. However, whenever Ann had overwhelmingly shocking news, she seemed to look for someone who would listen to her story. As Tina left the apartment one year ago, Ann has come to me when I was cooking in the kitchen. Her way of coping is, with no prior greeting, to tell her angry feelings, concerns, just like the “non-stop bullet train.” Then she tended to look at me just like someone waiting for a response and/or comment from the interlocutor. I tried to be a good listener, while putting myself into her shoes, even though I often wondered why she would tell me such personal problems.
following explanations were uttered by Ann during our interaction.
My note/observation beginning with “It seems …,” is followed
after her words.
Ann’s parents: She said,
”My parents are old now.” Her
parents still consider Ann as a child, because when they come once
almost in every four months from Connecticut, they always call her
Ann’s sisters: She said,
“My sisters went to regular schools, graduated from college and were
married. But I am not, I’m
different, I’m Special Ed.” It
seems that she has had an inferiority complex since her childhood.
No sisters have come to the apartment to see her to talk about her
feelings and concerns.
Ann’s situation in the family: She
said, “I’m the youngest daughter.”
Ann’s education: She said,
“I was born in Connecticut, but I came to Lesley for the Special
Education Program. Lesley
taught us skills for daily life, where to go for shopping, how to cook.
I did not want to go to college, like my sisters.”
It seems she wants to justify herself for not attending college.
Influence of her sister’s pregnant:
Right after receiving the news of her sister’s pregnancy, Ann
said, “I’ll be an aunt again! How can I get pregnant?
How can I find my future husband?
I was a Special Ed. student. So
there is no way to find a good one, you know?
I may never get married!” It
seems she really wanted to get married and then become pregnant like her
sisters, but nobody in her family has paid attention to how Ann might feel
about her sister’s getting pregnant.
How to become pregnant? She said, “I don’t remember what Lesley taught us about
pregnancy. My parents never
told me about pregnancy.”
No girl/boy friend: Ann has
not invited any girl friend to the apartment.
That makes me wonder how much she has experienced “loneliness”
due to lack of socializing with others.
Ann’s work: She said, “I
work for assembling parts in a factory from 9 to 5.
No need to talk with anyone. The
manager controls us.” Having
heard this explanation, I guess there would be no opportunity for her to
develop social communication skill with others in her working environment.
About one year ago, her company was closed so that she became
un-employed. She tried to
find work as a secretary, even though she has no experience.
Becoming pregnant: Last April
she said, “I’m pregnant! The
father of the baby, I have no idea!” I saw three men come to the apartment to see her meaning Ann
simultaneously might have them as friends during her unemployed period, or
her trying to find a new job.
Her family’s decision on her pregnancy:
She said, “My parents are Catholic, so they never want me to get
abortion. I will have to find
a family for my baby, because I have to work, you know.”
Thank you for reading!