Teen Pregnancy: A Multi-Generational Perspective

By: Kimberly Brown Email
By: Kimberly Brown Email

STATELINE (WIFR) -- "I was nervous and scared," Liz Smith said.

"I was pretty sad. I didn't know how to tell my parents," Sofia Ochoa said.

It was once rarely talked about. Now, it's on the cover of magazines and even has its own shows, but being a teen mom is more real for these girls than what's seen on reality TV.

"I think they kind of glamorize it more because they don't show the hardships like that really happen," Smith said.

Meet Liz. She's eight months pregnant. She's also a 16-year-old sophomore at Belvidere North. Her parents and boyfriend are supporting her.

"My future - I know it's going to change. It's gotten harder I guess, but it hasn't really changed too much, yet," Smith said.

But a lot has changed for Sofia Ochoa. She had to drop out of high school at East to stay at home with her son Benjamin, who's now four months old. Her family and boyfriend are also helping her raise him.

"My whole plan of graduating, going to college and all that - just had to put a big pause on it and just wait for me to start all over again," Ochoa said.

These moms say they've noticed more girls their age having babies too young. They also think the numbers are growing, but state statistics show teen pregnancy has remained the same throughout the last few years. That trend continues as far back as 1993.

And while the stats haven't changed, some think our culture accepts the issue. But for those who lived it 20 years ago like Yolanda Cruz - she remembers it differently.

"I was scared. I mean it's a scary place. I was 17 years old and 6 months pregnant what are you gonna do," Cruz said.

Back then, she wasn't supported by her parents. It left her pregnant, scared and homeless. Yolanda had to move into a community shelter and work her way up, but she did get help from ‘MELD’ which supports young parents. It's what she credits to her newfound success. She mentors other young moms trying to make it, but she spent most of her time warning her own daughters about the cycle.

"My daughter who I was pregnant with at MELD is now graduating high school and is going to college. And if I hadn't gotten that guidance from MELD, she would probably be pregnant and ready to move into the housing project," Cruz said.

After that 20 year struggle, Yolanda has a college degree and just started a new job.

Liz still has a while to go. She's due in June.


The Parents Television Council is a non-partisan group advocating for responsible entertainment. 23 News contacted them about what they think about the social stigma surrounding teen pregnancy. No research has been done by the group, however, reps for the group think while pop culture media recognizes the epidemic; they say it also makes the issue seem more accepting.

"Just the fact that we have so many young girls that are being made into celebrities for having accomplished nothing with their lives other than becoming a teen mom it does make it seem more acceptable. And I think we've heard a number of news stories over the last few years about pregnancy pacts in high schools and things like that and it's being treated as something rather inconsequential," PTC Communications Director, Melissa Henson said.

Rose Romero says she was one of two girls in her high school pregnant. She thinks the shows don’t portray teen mom life accurately.

"I'm not a big fan of any of those t-v shows but I never see any of them work. Everybody kind of sits on the couch with their significant others."

One teen mom tells us she thinks the shows accurately paint a picture of what it’s like to be a teenage mother by showing some responsibilities.

Learning From the Past

One Rockford teen mom, Marilu Teran, tells us she warns other girls at school about the importance of using protection. She hopes they learn from her mistake.

"I think some girls just think it's just cool. They just think that getting pregnant is getting pregnant. But they don't realize that it's getting up in the middle of the night when they're newborn's," Teran said.

Teran will graduate in a few days from East High School. She plans to go to school and improve she and her daughter’s lives.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Keri on May 28, 2011 at 04:10 AM
    She's "due" with her child, not "do". Doesn't anyone proofread these things?
  • by Jessica Location: Machesney Park on May 26, 2011 at 01:09 PM
    A story like this should be part of a series. Teen mom's have choices they can make and a news story should cover all aspects of that. I was pregnant at age 19 and in a very low point in my life. I chose open adoption and have an active relationship with my son and his parents. It was the best thing that has ever happened in my life. I get to see him grow up happily and I gained new role models that helped get my life on track.
  • by Name not gonna be given Location: Home on May 25, 2011 at 09:32 PM
    Being a teen parent isn't easy. I went to a small high school and was the only one pregnant in that school, and I was only 16. I ended up dropping out of high school which is the worst mistake a teen mom can make. It just makes it harder then going to school and finding a baby sitter. I had help supporting my baby from my parents once in awhile but any money I got when straight to him. I never got anything new, which I really wanted. I've moved over 10 times because I wasnt stable it just made things hard, and things It took a long time just for me to get my GED, and my son was 2 years od by then. Hes currently 3 and I'm going to school to be a CNA, going to college to be an RN and have a long way to go with a son to raise. Its not easy and girls now PLAN for a baby at a young age. There needs to be a speaker going to schools teling them how it is. Not some tv show girls want to be on for fame. They need to see reality, not a reality tv show. Life isnt easy.
  • by Carla Location: Dakota, IL on May 25, 2011 at 05:12 PM
    I agree with the girls in the article, as a former teen mom myself. Not to nitpick but mom's is a possessive noun, meaning "belong to mom" and moms is the plural of mom.
23 WIFR 2523 North Meridian Road Rockford, IL. 61101 Business: 815-987-5300 Fax: 815-965-0981 News: 815-987-5330 Fax: 815-987-5333
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 122539229 - wifr.com/a?a=122539229
Gray Television, Inc.