Preventing teen pregnancies - by paying them?

So, if Tori had an older sister who’d gotten pregnant as a teenager, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about how to fund her college education. There’s a program for that. It’s called College Bound Sisters, and the program pays its participants seven dollars a week (plus another five dollars a week for transportation costs) to attend a meeting – providing, of course, they show up unfertilized.

Girls can begin attending when they’re twelve years old and can remain part of the program until they graduate from high school. Using simple math, if a girl begins in the program as a 12-year-old preteen, she’ll be earning $364 each year which totals (by graduation) somewhere between $2,100 and $2,500, depending on when her birthday falls. If she makes it to graduation without getting pregnant – successful completion of the program – then College Bound Sisters doubles the amount in her account for her to use toward college expenses. That’s not chump change, and I’m not even factoring in the $5 weekly allowance for transportation.

This is a North Carolina program and is funded by a grant from that state’s Department of Health and Human Services as well as anonymous donors (according to their website). I suppose there’s an argument somewhere in here about spending tax dollars in prevention of pregnancy versus care for dependent children. However, I’m not going to delve into that muddy pit.

My interests – concerns – lie elsewhere.

As my peers and I discussed during our lunch today (because of a video on Channel One), no one paid us not to get pregnant when we were teenagers. Our mothers put the fear of God in us, and believe me, there was no money changing hands.

Why is money the only way to motivate these girls into wanting more for themselves, into wanting to make a better life than their sisters are living? Why isn’t it possible to teach them about character and values?

I’m not naïve. I teach teenagers and I know they’re having sex – much younger than you would probably believe. It’s scary. But I still don’t believe bribing them is the answer. They should want to have protected sex – if they can’t or won’t abstain – because it’s the best choice for them and their future children. Using birth control should not have a paycheck attached to it.

There has to be a better way.