A Family of Young Parents: How Teen Pregnancy Has Changed Over a Generation

An average of one in four girls will be pregnant at least once by the time they turn 20, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. In Chicago, that meant 45,000 teenage pregnancies counted by the Chicago Department of Public Health in 2012. The number and quality of resources for pregnant teenagers have improved dramatically over the past 30 years. The Chicago Department of Public Health coordinated three teen pregnancy programs between 2005 and 2015 to provide sex education, distribute contraceptives, and implement a school-based STI screening program. The programs were made possible by the partnership between Chicago Public Schools and the CDPH, as well as the $1.3 million grant from the Federal Department of Public Resources.

Our story profiles two generations of teen parents and compares their experiences. The Chavez family has endured and thrived through years of poverty.  Irene Chavez, who gave birth to her first child at age 15 in 1985, raised her five boys and one little girl in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. Angel Gonzalez, Irene’s fourth son, had his child out of wedlock at 19-years-old in 2014.

By pursuing this intimate portrait of teen pregnancy, Real Chi Youth reporters investigated how the landscape of teen pregnancy has changed, what resources have become available, and how social perceptions of teen parents have shifted over the past 30 years.We discovered numerous programs and organizations purely dedicated to making the life of teen parents easier, such as Christopher House. It offers programs that include prenatal care and an elementary school from kindergarten to the third grade, which adds grades every year. With the increasing number of programs for pregnancy, teen parents now have more resources than ever to build their families.

By Alyssa Chavez, Evangeline Lacroix and Tyshawn Martin

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