As Ky.’s teen-birth rank rises, mother objects to Casey Co. child-development class’s baby shower for five pregnant students

Kentucky’s ranking for births to females aged 15 to 19 is going up, and five students at Casey County High School are pregnant. A joint baby shower for them during class time recently sent the wrong message about teenage pregnancy, a mother of a teenager at the school told the Casey County News.

Carmen Foster gained custody of her daughter three years ago, but not before the girl heard her biological mother say she enjoyed being pregnant because of all the attention she received. The biological mother left her and six other children with an abusive ex-boyfriend until Foster gained custody, Abigail Whitehouse reports.

“Some of these kids come from situations we can’t even imagine,” Foster said. “They need daily positive examples to help them reach their potential. I don’t want my daughter thinking that being a pregnant teen will get her tons of positive attention from everyone at school.”

Foster, who was a teenage mother, said she has spent years instructing her daughter that she doesn’t need approval from boys to have self-confidence. “I want better for our girls,” she said. “I believe in love and acceptance and helping in any way that I can, but I also believe in doing so responsibly. This was not a message to be sent out at school.”

CCHS Principal Josh Blevins told the newspaper that the baby shower, in a Human and Child Development class, “was a way of saying, here are some things to help get them on their feet. We are just simply addressing the fact that this has happened, and now it’s our responsibility to educate these women on how to care for their children.” Blevins said the class is an elective, and participation isn’t required.

Jackie Allen, who teaches the class, said the students were working through a unit on pregnancy and childbirth unit, and asked if they could throw a surprise baby shower for the five students. “I think it was a positive experience for my students and for the girls they invited,” Allen said. “I think that students who are pregnant need all the support they can get. I don’t think there was any kind of glorifying teen pregnancy.”

Kentucky ranked seventh out of 51 (50 states and the District of Columbia) in 2011 birth rates among females 15-19, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2008, the state Kentucky ranked 19th.

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