Tuesday, December 11, 2012

“Men, Never Give Up on Your Children”

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit my father in Philadelphia. This year, we were not only celebrating Thanksgiving, but we were also celebrating my recent graduation from the University of South Carolina. Go Gamecocks! During dinner, my father made a very important speech that has stayed in my mind since the moment he made it. He said to all the fathers in attendance, “men, never give up on your children and definitely never leave them. Our children need us more than we know and it is our job and responsibility to let them know that we are here.” My father has been around for six decades, so I know he was talking from experience and from the harsh reality that he sees everyday on the streets of Philadelphia. This simple, yet profound statement stayed in my head for the remainder of my trip, “men, never give up on your children.” Even though my parents have been divorced for two decades, my father has always played an active role in my life and truly helped me become the woman I am today.

On the plane ride home, I began to think about all of the children who do not have a father in their lives. This truly saddened me because I do not know what life would be like without having my Dad. My father’s speech also made me think about all of the teen mothers who are currently raising their child in a single-parent household and all of the teenage males, especially African American teen males in South Carolina, who are at risk of becoming teen fathers. Research shows that “African American males are more likely to become teen fathers than white males”1,2. Additionally, 79% of African American high school males have engaged in sexual intercourse3. To this teenager, it may only be sexual intercourse, but that act alone has the potential to start a new life.

I believe there is a time and place for everything. My parents were ready for a child. They were married and doing well in their respective careers. Pregnancy can complicate your life, especially if you are a teen and especially if you are not prepared for it. So, I believe it is very important for our young people to abstain from sexual intercourse or for those who are sexually active to protect themselves, so my father won’t have to reflect on the heartfelt reality that he sees every day. I can honestly say that if my father did not practice what he preached, I may not be Dr. India Dorothy Rose today!

by India Rose, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

1. Thornberry, Smith & Howard. (August 1997) “Risk Factors for Teenage Fatherhood.” Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol 59, No3, pp 505-522.
2. Manlove, J; Terry-Humen, E; & Ikramullah, E. (2006) “Young Teenagers and Older Sexual Partners: Correlates and Consequences for Males and Females.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health Vol 38, No 4, pp. 197-207.
3. Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2011). Available online at http://ed.sc.gov/agency/os/Health-and-Nutrition/School-Health/SCYouthRiskBehaviorSurvey.cfm

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