Creative Commons/Torsten Mangner

The GEM Debate:
Teen Parents Featured In High School Yearbooks: Yea Or Nay (VIDEO)

The current edition of the Mesa High School yearbook has riled some parents, prompting them to make angry phone calls to the principal and leave messages on social media. The problem? Pages 40 and 41 feature pictures and descriptions of teenagers talking about how hard it is to raise children and go to school.

Some parents feel that the two pages make teen pregnancy look cute and it doesn’t reflect what they’re teaching their own teenagers. Other parents say that the yearbook reflects a new norm.

Other schools around the country have also been caught up in the controversy, too. They have banned pictures of pregnant students and students holding their children.

Mesa High School is “100 percent behind” pregnant students and teen parents and support their academic accomplishments.



Related: Single Mom Slice of Life: What Teenagers REALLY Want From Their Moms

I don’t know if I’m in the minority here, but I don’t see the problem. This issue isn’t worthy of parents calling the school and expressing anger. Yearbooks are supposed to reflect the lives of high school students, and some students have babies in their lives. We can’t act like it doesn’t exist for those students because their lives as students are inextricably linked to being parents.

I’m definitely not saying that we should glamorize teen pregnancy. The truth is that teen parents in general are less likely to finish school and more likely to live in poverty and have children with behavioral and health problems. But I’m not so sure these pages make teenage parenthood look like fun and games. Phrases these parents use such as mixed emotions, homework pressure, double shift, sleepless nights, and early mornings don’t sound glamorous to me, and probably even less so to the unencumbered teenager, ready to get out into the world.

And lest you start thinking that this yearbook spotlight makes teenagers want to run out and have babies, consider this: It is well-documented that the teen birth rate has been falling steadily since 1991. In fact, the MTV reality show 16 and Pregnant has been given some credit for lowering the teen pregnancy rate.

Two researchers studied search data from Google Trends and Twitter whenever the show aired to determine the show’s impact on teen birth rates. The most interesting evidence came from teens’ social media language. They found tweets such as “This reminds me to take my birth control” and “Watching 16 & Pregnant, going to take my birth control.” It is quite possible that some students will look at those two pages in the Mesa High School yearbook and say, “No way. That’s not for me.”


What do you think? Is it a good idea or bad idea to feature teen parents in yearbooks? How would you feel if your child’s yearbook featured teen parents? Share your thoughts below.