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January 9th, 2008
04:52 PM ET

Maternity leave for high school students?

ALT TEXT

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Some pregnant high school students in Colorado may soon be getting maternity leave.

According to local media reports, the Denver Public School District is putting together guidelines for pregnant students' leaves, which could last for four to six weeks after they give birth. They would be expected to complete their schoolwork from home and keep up in their studies. However, school officials insist it's important to give the new mothers time to bond with their babies.

And, there are a lot of these new teen moms. Statistics show 42 of every 1,000 high school-aged girls are having babies.

The issue of maternity leave came up in Denver after the school district got complaints that some students were told to report to class the day after they got out of the hospital, or else risk getting "unexcused" absences. Experts, including a pediatrician and psychology professor, suggested giving new mothers at least four weeks of maternity leave to recover.

Across the country, other school districts like Seattle and Minneapolis say they have maternity leave policies that focus on individual attention for these students.

And there's a good reason for that: teen mothers often end up dropping out of school. By some accounts, less than a third of them get their high school diplomas and only 1.5% get college degrees before they turn 30.

Of course, critics would say this also raises the issue of whether it's a good idea to give these students any more time off.

Here’s my question to you: Should pregnant high school girls be given maternity leave?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Noel in Minnesota writes:
In my second year of high school, one of my classmates gave birth. Though there was no law requiring it, the school gave her 4 weeks maternity leave and customized her schedule so she could spend part of the day with her child while her mom was at work. In our third year, she was quite open about discussing the issue and even spoke at a class retreat. In our senior year, she was voted class president and graduated top of the class. Sure, she might be an exception to the rule, but at least she had the opportunity.

Laurie writes:
As a high school teacher, I know absences have a serious impact on student success. Unfortunately, today's pregnant teens, who have already demonstrated some lack of judgment, also lack dedication and tenacity. Instead of viewing their baby as someone who will need a successful parent, they treat it like a toy, showing off ultrasounds and baby gifts. Any time they feel "uncomfortable" they stay home. They have no idea that life will just get harder and no one is teaching them that lesson.

Michelle writes:
Jack, I am an educational sales consultant and work with our nation’s public and private schools in southeast North Carolina. I took 6 weeks maternity leave by doctor's order. I needed it as the baby needed to eat every 2 hours and it took an hour and a 1/2 to feed him. The better question is: what about paternity leave for the baby's father? I haven't seen that school improvement plan developed by the administration, staff, faculty, parents and students.

Melanie writes:
Jack, these girls shouldn't even be pregnant! They don't even have jobs to afford to take care of these kids! I'm 21, virgin, with one child: a female dog named Daisy. Girls you want kids? Adopt a dog! It's cheaper!

“A mother” writes:
If businesses can give mothers maternity leave, certainly schools can. These young women need to be given a chance to recover, to bond with their child if they are going to keep the baby, and to succeed in life. In 1972, when I was 17, I was kicked out of high school when I started "to show," but Minnesota state law allowed me to graduate by providing a tutor. I am now a university professor.


Filed under: Social Issues
soundoff (165 Responses)
  1. Jennnifer Thomassen

    If we are to truly honor Thomas Jefferson's vision for tax-payer supported public schooling in America, we are obligated to make every effort to ensure that everyone gets that education – regardless of their social, economic, ethnic, linguistic, or reproductive status. It's a civil rights issue just like many other issues in education these days. Many programs already in exist for helping teen parents to stay in or finish high school, some are funded by municipalities and others by church groups. If any local school boards want to allow students (the mother and/or the fathers) to take a leave of absence, they should be allowed to do so. Also, don't forget about the boys (or men) who are helping to get these girls pregnant in the first place.

    January 9, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  2. Hannah

    No student should be exempt from learning important material. Our standards for graduation are already ridiculously low, I shudder to think of the future of our country if we send young, ignorant mothers into the workforce with diplomas they didn't even earn.

    January 9, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  3. Bill, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    Yes I think they should. I think it is better for a teenage mother to at least have a chance at getting a high school diploma then going through life as a teenage high school dropout with a child. I think any program that promotes pregnant teenagers staying in school is a good thing.

    January 9, 2008 at 2:00 pm |
  4. Bert D

    As far as I know, high school girls, pregnant or not are not required to attend school and do not need to ask the school's permission to not attend. We should, however, REQUIRE pregnant elementary and junior high girls to take maternity leave.

    January 9, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  5. Rich, Mckinney Texas

    Absolutely not. They should have to attend school through out the pregnancy and Health class should be scheduled around her so that she can give live birth right in front of all the other students. That will help deter other students from engaging in unprotected sex. Better yet, the school system can have a reality show called " Name that illegitimate child" and air it on national television. Who ever guesses the correct name gets a 5 day all expense paid trip to never never land where they all live happily ever after on welfare and become burdens on society. They likely will anyway.

    January 9, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  6. john

    Maternity leave from what ..... childhood ?

    January 9, 2008 at 2:36 pm |
  7. Paul

    Sure, why not? She already destroyed her life, why make it even more oppressive?

    January 9, 2008 at 2:49 pm |
  8. Jean Smith

    You betcha they should be given materinty leave – while she's off school, she and the father should be required to take parenting classes covering all aspects of child rearing and parental responsibility they have for the child, including the perils of bottle feeding, how to hold your nose while changing a diaper, how to get a baby to fall asleep before midnight, how much child support the father is expected to pay, how not to pick the 'monster" babysitter.

    January 9, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  9. Brian Nancoo - Trinidad

    Yes.To do otherwise will penalize the child more than the mother.However,there has to be another element that addresses the mother's poor decisions in the pregnancy.You can't just pick-up were you left off,and you can't be left alone to make the same mistake again.

    January 9, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  10. Scott

    hell no Jack. but i do believe that daycare should be provided so they can finish there schooling.
    scott bowling green, mo.

    January 9, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  11. Katy Hill Prescott, Az.

    What Bush's teach "abstinance only "sex education plan isn't working? I'm shocked!!!!

    January 9, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  12. Ralph

    Jack, there are those who will say no because they believe that it would encourage more reckless sex among teens leading to pregnancies and STD's. If we have learned one thing it is that all that has been written or shown on TV about the problems of teenage pregnancies or the horror of acquiring diseases such as AIDS has not stopped teens from following into this trap. I support maternity leave not for welfare of the pregnant high school girl, but so that she can prepare for the role of motherhood, or have the time to find the best family for her child should adoption be chosen. In other words, I support lmaternity leave believing it to be in the best interest of the unborn child.

    January 9, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  13. M. F. Macoy

    The question is moronic. To do less is barbaric.

    This is what we get from you? Playing "second-banana" to Blitzer has messed you up.

    January 9, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  14. Max Hillman

    Absolutely! It is remarkable no one thought of doing it before now.

    January 9, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  15. Patricia

    The "religious right" doesn't want high school girls to have sex, but, we know high school girls are having sex. The "religious right" doesn't want high school girls to have abortions, but, they don't want to pay for the care of these high school girls & their babies either. Don't high school girls have the same health problems that married women have, postpartum depression etc.? Then yes, high school girls need the same help that married women ask for including maternity leave. Make home schooling available to them, home nursing, & anything else that makes having a baby a more loving experience for the mother & her baby. I can remember a time when a high school girl became pregnant her parents would ship her to house that was run by nuns who would treat that high school girl as if she were a whore or worse. It's time we stepped up to the plate & did the right thing by these young girls.

    January 9, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  16. David,San Bernardino,CA.

    How about teaching sex education and telling young people how children are created and having their parents actually parent instead of being their buddies. Sex is a strong emotion among teens,but the fact that babies are not toys to be tossed away when they are tired of playing with them is not an option Children are expensive and they are forever!

    January 9, 2008 at 3:32 pm |
  17. Ernest

    No Jack they should have there Child there in the class room. duh

    January 9, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  18. Boone, Atlanta

    What a sad state of affairs that we should even be discussing teen pregnancy and time out from high school. Teach sex education and birth control when their hormones start raging!

    Don't you people remember what it was like to be a teen...and "in love"?

    January 9, 2008 at 3:37 pm |
  19. Karen

    CNN, knock it off. Quit pandering to get a rise. In case you aren't aware (watch a real news station) there is a war and an election going on. Here's something new, cover an issue. You're getting annoying.

    January 9, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  20. Pat

    These girls did not have an abortion. They did not throw the baby in a trash can. As a society we need to help this young girls and these babies have the best possible shot at a productive life. Getting their hight school diploma is a step in the right direction. Along with maternity leave, parenting classes could be helpful, I don't think we can rely on their parents to provide the best model.

    January 9, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  21. LEO

    Ralph, and I'm one of them...
    Teens that want to have sex should take their precaution.
    End of debate...

    January 9, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  22. suzie from atlanta, GA

    Of course, and they should get counseling, and help re-focusing their lives, advice and help on choosing child care solutions, and the baby needs to be taken into the equation along with the two families. The fact that these mothers chose to have their babies at all is an indication of some good thinking, since abortion was another choice they did not make.
    This country needs educated workers, and our society needs caring and responsible parents. This is a great way to get both.
    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Maybe other School Districts will follow suit.

    January 9, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  23. Jordan - Cedar Rapids, IA

    Yes, it should be offered to the mothers. However, it should be paired with REAL sex education and access to contraceptives to stem the tide of teen pregnancies to begin with.

    Maternity leave for mothers in high school just makes sense, Jack. Why force a girl to choose between being a mom and finishing her education? After all, she's going to need it now more than ever.

    January 9, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  24. Denise

    It's maternity leave, not a holiday. These young mom's will not be sitting back munching on bob-bons and suntannig. They will be recovering from a traumatic, life-altering and hopefully wonderful experience and bonding with their child. To crack the whip and send them away from their newborns does nothing but tear at the very delicate fabric of a new family. Give them their time to strengthen those ties.

    January 9, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  25. lena s

    Maternity leave for high school students ????????? give me a break , they are mothers to be. Pregnant is not an illness therefor should not be given the same consideration that someone with a long term illness would be given for missing school. There are certain responsibilities that come along with being a parent and the sooner they realize it ....the better, have the kid, get back in school. then graduate and grow up . Its up to give them to give this child a descent start in life and that likely isnt coming from a teenage dropout.

    January 9, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  26. A mother

    If businesses can give mothers maternity leave, certainly schools can. These young women need to be given a chance to recover, to bond with their child if they are going to keep the baby, and to succeed in life. In 1972, when I was 17, I was kicked out of high school when I started "to show," but Minnesota state law allowed me to graduate by providing a tutor. I am now a university professor.

    January 9, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  27. Dale Hill

    Jack,
    Yes, with a heavy dosage of post-natal care and nutrition, plus a heavy dosage of breastfeeding education. Women don't have breast for men; they have them to produce the perfect food for their babies.

    Dale – Anadarko, OK.

    January 9, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  28. tony

    WHEN IT COME TO PEOPLE IN N.H. THEY ARE VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE AND
    CANNOT POSSIBLY VOTE FOR A PERSON ON JUST CHARMS. WE WANT EXPERIANCE IN THESE DIFFICULT TIMES.

    January 9, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  29. Bo

    Ever hear of a GED?

    January 9, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  30. Alex

    I do not think that women should be given maternity leave. Maybe I'm saying this because I don't hang out with the "crowds" at my high school, but I don't understand why a young woman would sacrifice the rest of her life for a couple minutes of pleasure. I understand there is the whole "safe sex" thing, but the only safe sex is abstinence. Young men and women across the United States do not understand the true meaning of commitment and sacrifice in a relationship. If you want to prevent them and send a message, start by overturning Roe V Wade and eliminate "on demand" abortion. This will start to tell them to take better care of their bodies, and ultimately it will save lives and improve the mental health of younger people.

    January 9, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  31. getsteppin

    Jack- IF, these school age girls get maternity leave, Then the guy responsible should get a vasectomy.

    January 9, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  32. Terry

    Jack
    last week we had a question about breathalyser tests in schools we already have metal detectors and armed security gaurds patroling the hallways. Teachers are scared to death. Is this our future ? Now were talking about maternity leave for students, isnt this admitting defeat ? This is a good question for our presidential canidates ! Where has education gone in this country and what are you going to do to bring it back to where it should be ?

    January 9, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  33. romero rodriguez

    I've seen some sorry politics in my 67yrs, but hillary Clinton's fake cry to prey on voters is the lowest i've ever seen. i have always voted democratic my entire life, but if she gets the nomination , for the fgirst time in my life i will vote republican no mater who the candidate may be. What is she going to do the first time there is a crisis in the country , "cry'.

    January 9, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  34. emeka

    jack,on issues about h.clinton ur contributing to her downfall the way u potray here and her political business makes me sick.jack if she is ur wife will u potray her in that way?please live the clintons alone,let see what she is up to.To wolf come down on the clintons u call there names 1000 times b4 the day is over comedown wolf.EMEKA,NIGERIA

    January 9, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  35. David,San Bernardino,CA.

    Jack,To all these people who think that you are annoying,a nitwit,a panderer or any other such thing, You are none of those! You are a curmudgen! Keep it up! Signed,a fellow curmudgen!

    January 9, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  36. marilyn grant

    JACK I WATCH CNN EVERY DAY NEED TO STOP BEATING UP ON HILLARY
    SHE IS BY FOR THE BEST, TO LEAD THE COUNTRY.US WOMEN OF SAN ANGELO, TEX. THINK SO THANK YOU
    MARILYN GRANT

    January 9, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  37. Tatyana

    I think this is a great idea. I mean, the girl's already gotten pregnant, which Im sure the 'critics' would say is punishment enough, so what do they suggest is better? Have a pregnant, uncomfortable, completely preoccupied woman sit in classrooms for 8hrs a day? That wont help them become better mothers and it certainly wont help them graduate, as the teenage-mother drop out rate clearly shows. Instead, lets give these girls MORE help. Lets get them tutors and new mother classes, support in a very difficult time, and daycare for when they need to go back to school. This way, we wont have so many uneducated single mothers, which isn't helpful to anyone in society, especially the new mothers. And no, this will NOT increase teen pregnancy.

    January 9, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  38. Richard Sternagel

    Of course they should be given maternity leave.During this leave they receive motherhood training also!

    January 9, 2008 at 4:39 pm |
  39. Taylor Hughes

    Teen mothers absolutly need maternity leave. This will help them actually learn motherhood, and to allow the mother and newborn child to develop in some of the most important times of it life. Furthermore schools should be teaching safe sex. We need to stop allowing christian conservatives to insist on teaching abstinince. Its does not work. Teens are going to have sex. If the threat of eternal damnation and spending eternity in a firey furnace won't stop teens from having sex (, than a health class won't do it.

    Taylor
    Plano Texas

    January 9, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  40. Jerry

    Jack, no don't give these girls any maternity leave, the sweat shops would have to hire illegals. We wouldn't want these girls to bond with the babies or have a normal life.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  41. Dana

    We give adult woman maternity leave, so why not teenagers? First Jack, teenage pregnancy and birth is a higher risk for complications than for adult women. Labor in itself is exhausting and woman need time to readjust to being a mother and bonding with there new child. This benefits both mother and child in the long run! Second, Jack, by law to medical personal once you become pregnant you are considered to be an adult no matter what age you are. We are not sending a message "Go have sex," We need to be supportive to these young mothers; they didn't get pregnant alone. We are simpe showing our humanity!

    January 9, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  42. Samantha in WI

    I don't understand why this hasn't come up before. If those in the workplace have the Family Medical Leave Act, why aren't there similar laws for student mothers. Furthermore, those that have major surgeries aren't required to immediately return to class, so why are those who just gave birth? Having a law that grants teenage mothers the right to a leave from school only makes sense. And if it encourages finishing school, shouldn't that be the ultimate outcome?

    January 9, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  43. Ruby Coria, CA.

    Jack, I think all women should get it, but the little girl having the baby maybe there should be some hard studying Pervention during that kick back time, but what a mess this hold issue is. Please everyone no more kids.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  44. Jack

    Seems to me they already had too much time away from school.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  45. JimT

    When I first heard this report I was appalled but then I wondered just what the alternative should be. You already have some good answers involving real sex education, nurturing classes etc. One remaining question would be 'who pays'? Generally speaking stay at home moms don't make much money.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  46. Barbara Ruvas

    No, they should NOT be given maternity leave. They should be given condoms and lectures on sex.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  47. Melanie

    Jack, these girls shouldn't even be pregnant! They don't even have jobs to afford to take care of these kids! I'm 21, virgin, with one child : a female dog named Daisy. Girls you want kids? Adopt a dog! It's cheaper!

    January 9, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  48. Ben Pascoe

    No person is ready to go back into the teenage Hell that is high school a day after getting out of the hospital. The girl is dealing with all sorts of conflicting emotions and maybe taking care of an infant. It's only fair to give them some time off.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  49. Kathryn

    For a whole variety of reasons, yes of course they should. Not to mention being a new mother, their bodies need to heal and they need quality time with their new baby.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  50. Bagdad Bob

    Absolutely!

    The thriteen year old boys that father the children of preganant teachers should also be given leave to be with the Mommy & baby.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  51. Benton Nelson, Indianapolis, IN

    Jack, if they give girls maternity all is is asking for is more girls getting pregnant so they wont have to go to school for how ever long they have to be off for.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  52. Bob Forest

    Jack – For every pregnant girl there is a father of the child. How about some public service time for the fathers to earn money to support the child?

    January 9, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  53. marilyn

    of course they should... what could be more valuable to mother and child but the bonding and love that comes thru this period. In most cases I am sure it is a first child and mature problems can be traumatized enough.

    society can't have it both ways – judgmental on pro-choicers and then not accomodate those who choose parenthood

    January 9, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  54. Emily

    Absolutely. Irresponsibility may have preceded this pregnancy, but now she is trying her best to be responsible and everyone should support her and the baby as much as possible. Pro-lifers should especially be behind this – if you want girls and women to keep their babies, you've got to do everything to support mother and child once the child is in this world.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  55. Dan

    If babies are having babies, this serves as the most sensible policy for them to recover, take responsibility for their children when they are most vulnerable and continue their quest for a diploma so they can provide for their children later on down the road.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  56. Tina

    Of course they should get maternity leave. Yes, they are very young to have children of course. What everyone needs to remember, they are only pregnant because god made women the ones to hold the child in the womb the nine months. Where are the young fathers that are still in high school as well, when we lash out at these young females needing time to bond and heal after giving birth?

    January 9, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  57. Bill

    yeah i think they should, it isn't fair if these girls have to come back the day after they give birth

    January 9, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  58. Zac - Austin, TX

    While I don't agree with teenage pregnancy, a woman that's pregnant, no matter the age, should be able to get maternity leave.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  59. brandon perrault

    Yes Jack just as long as it's not paid maternity leave.
    brandon perrault
    silver city, nm

    January 9, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  60. jason

    It goes to prove abstinence education is a failure.I would love to hear the reason why by the christian right why learning about condoms are so bad especially since high school students don't even know how to take control of their own lives much less a baby.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  61. Pat

    I cannot believe this is even an issue – these girls should be immedietly suspended from school and given a tutor and mothering classes To allow them to remain in school pregnant and given all a free pass to not take physical ed and other things that might "stress" them they are setting a bad example – they are a bad example period – what happen to the days where teen pregnancy was hidden?

    January 9, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  62. Ewen

    The last time I checked, pregnant teens are also humans. If pregnant adults get maternity leave to sort pregnancy issues out, as well as psychological issues, why shouldn't pregnant teens? With all this anti-abortion talk, it's time to take responsibility for such pregnancies – not just the teens, but society should as well after all.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  63. Dick

    The alternative is to have maternity facilities in the high school so pregnant kids can have their babies between algebra and Shakespeare. Come on every one. Lets let common sense reign.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  64. missy

    As a teenager myself, I think that teen moms should definately get maternity leave. Its hard enough trying to take care of a baby as a teenager and with school everyday on top of that .. it makes it even worse. Trust me, I would know. If teenage moms could get maternity leave, they will have time to raise their newborn and do schoolwork at their own pace. More teenage moms will drop out of school if they need to go everyday especially with a new baby. With the maternity leave, schools will notice less dropouts of teenage moms. To all the adults writing to this, you guys wouldn't really know. You aren't living as teenagers in 2008.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  65. Elizabeth

    yes, it shoult have been done a while ago. Furthermore, I think they should have someone visiting the teen and baby and teaching how to parent, dealing with the real issues like trying to get something done with a baby, proper nutrtien for both mom and baby then the state or fed gov should start trying real sex education and ask these teens to let others know how hard it is to parent.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  66. Paul Battis

    Absolutely not Jack. We need to begin punishing those new born babies immediately for being born. Their mothers are way too young and so the babies have no business bonding with them. Yeah this should stop the cycle of teen pregnancy.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  67. Matthew

    Of course they should get some time off with their newborn at home. But that does not mean the school shouldn't insure that they keep up with their education. Our school allows those who are forced to be home for extenuated periods of time to participate at a home school program during that time to keep up with their studies at home and with tutors. The question is should the state pay for these tutors?

    January 9, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  68. Steve

    Jack,

    They should be given maternity leave. Perhaps even private home schooling. This type of arrangements are made when students have to leave school for a surgery or other medical infirmary. I don't see any reason why a pregnant woman would not be given the same opportunity.

    Some may say that their pregnancy is a matter of their poor choices. Perhaps the answer lies in education. Every woman should be taught safe sex options other than abstinance. Its no wonder teen pregnancy is on the rise.

    Steve

    January 9, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  69. Vickie

    Yes! Let's not compound the stupidity and wasted tax dollars of the "abstinence only" policy of this administration! We must educate our children, and the children they have!

    We are seeing teen pregnancy rates climb for the first time in years, obviously showing a lack of reality and the education of the administration that came up with this policy. We must not throw out the babies, or the babies of the babies!

    Since the beginning of time Mothers have told their children, "Just don't do it!" Never has worked, never will. While a good philosophy, we are all human.

    Support real education! Keep our kids safe!

    January 9, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  70. Jim Blevins

    It is important to not applies one's own morals to another when there is an honest difference of opinion. If a person conceives a child at a time that they are not as old as we think they should be and if they choose to keep the child, then what should be done is that which is best for the mother and the child. That would normally include non-prejudicial maternity leave.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  71. Pushkal Basavaraj

    High school girls getting maternity leave seemed ludicrous at first to me. After some thought, I realized this might be the only way for these girls to finish their high school education and eventually go to college. Students finishing high school should be the most important goal of the Denver school system and if this solution solves that problem then I do not see anything wrong with it.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  72. Sam Elakkad

    Some women who get pregnant in highschool already think their lives are ruined, give them the 4 weeks to bond with their child and to consider their situation and to plan for who will take care of their baby while they are in school.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  73. Ula K.

    Absolutely not. One major factor keeping high school girls out of the maternity ward is the seemingly inevitable "syndrome" of dropping out. Teen pregnancy shouldn't be supported, rather prevented, and giving teen moms a maternity leave only glorifies early pregnancy. Besides, there is no guarantee that teen moms will return to school even after their maternity leave.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  74. Chris

    Ok well let's try and kill two birds with one stone here then. As Highschool "mom" sits home and gets the baby food ready, why not let "real" mom sit in her daughters highschool chair and after that put her in detention for bad parenting.....Jack this is simply disgusting. What's your view? How do we really change this absurdity?

    January 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  75. Joyce Simerson

    What is our school system coming too. I live in Colorado and I feel that this is telling us that our schools approve pregnancy. Pretty soon they will have nurseries in the class rooms.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  76. Rick, H.

    They should put the pregnant high school girls on the Dean's List for excelling in biology. Rick, H.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  77. Nan

    NO, don't give them maternity leave! We need more mothers who do not bond with their babies and more young women who drop out of school. If we do something to help these young women become better parents and join the ranks of the educated we might have to stop blaming "unwed mothers" for all the ills of the "welfare" system.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  78. amy hollingsworth

    No. I can see this as a way for irresponsible teens to get a few weeks off from school. They don't need anymore incentives to do the wrong thing. Your commentaries are good for our country.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  79. Julie Horowitz

    They should absolutely be given maternity leave, among other services! As a mother of 2, I know how difficult those days after birth are, and how incredibly important it is to be with the baby. Our society should be doing everything we can to ensure that these young mothers and their children have healthy, productive lives.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  80. Tommy Pedersen

    To answer the question, yes, I believe pregnant high school girls should get maternity leave for the sake of the future of both the child as well as the mother. That being said, I believe more information should be provided to young people on safe sex practices other than simply preaching abstinence in public schools.

    Peace.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  81. Seemster

    NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT! A teenage girl should be concerned with receiving a quality education not with sex and having babies. We should not be encouraging sex amongst this age demographic. This is absurd.

    I agree that teenagers are going to have sex, but why should we as a nation and public policy makers advocate behavior that is known to be destructive and derelict.

    If teenage girls want to conceive, then they should be prepared for the consequences. If maternity leave for teenagers is allowed, then taxpayers are charged for their irresponsibility and selfishness. I don't think so.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  82. Millie, Ohio

    I think it is ridiculous to suggest anything else. I had a friend in high school who had a daughter. Our high school gave leave and she is now almost finished with college. Girls will drop out if they have to choose between high school or their new child, and who can blame them. Maybe it is time schools in the United States began to teach something other than abstinence only education. There is a reason why all other industrialized countries have lower teenage pregnancy rates. They offer contraceptive education and have supportive programs for young adults receive birth control. If high schools can't help students from preventing pregnancy they should at least receive maternity leave.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  83. Christine Beatty

    Without maternity leave these young girls will more likely end up collecting welfare. Were it not for Bush's pandering to the Religious Right with his abstinence-only sex education policy, we wouldn't have a rising teen birthrate after a sixteen year decline. Way to go, Bush.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  84. Chris Christensen

    As the nation schools struggle with No Child Left Behind, allowing these extended absences will only present greater challenges for our educational system as well as our schools.

    This topic also leads into the issue that if we do this for the new mothers, will the fathers next expect the same – paternity leave?

    Emphasis should be on REAL sex education and birth control practices rather than abstinence.

    I am concerned that the mothers who have these babies (and do need to bond) will be no better in their (the babies) care after they return to school. Parenting does not end after six weeks. It's forever...

    January 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  85. Mike

    Call it whatever you want, but these teenage mothers should not get expelled from school because they choose to recover from labor and bond with their child. Like it or not, these teenagers are mothers, and they should not have to choose between being a parent and being a student. It is exactly this type of ultimatum that results in so many of these girls never finishing school. The last thing we need is more uneducated people on welfare, setting poor examples for their children, who will likely follow in their footsteps. If giving these girls a 4 week break from attending class keeps them in school – I am all for it!

    Mike
    Las Vegas

    January 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  86. Jonae

    I believe that it is a poor idea to give teen mothers (especially high school-mothers) a maternity leave option because it encourages a trend that we as a society are trying to get rid of. As young adults, teens need to start taking more responsibility for their lives. This includes planning for pregnancy. Though I sympathize with teen mothers and realize that there are always exceptions to the rule; maternity leave would encourage rather than discourage teen pregnancy.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  87. Chelsea Eatmon

    Though it is ashame we have to debate this...I believe these children should receive some type of leave to LEARN how to be RESPONSIBLE mothers.Clearly, being responsible is a very important part of parenthood and having a baby in highschool doesn't show much! A lesson on safe sex wouldn't hurt either.

    Chelsea
    North Carolina

    January 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  88. Laurie Newby

    As a high school teacher, absences have a serious impact on student success. Unfortunately, today's pregnant teens, who have already demonstrated some lack of judgement, also lack dedication and tenacity. Instead of viewing their baby as somone who will need a successful parent, they treat it like a toy, showing off ultrasounds and baby gifts. Any time they feel "uncomfortable" they stay home. They have no idea that life will just get harder and no one is teaching them that lesson. In fact, as they garner attention with their baby gifts and talking about names, they are modelling behavior and encouraging actions that are not helpful for the overall student population.

    What would I suggest? Please, lets have separate facilities for pregnant teens. NOT to punish them or treat them as pariahs, but to provide them with the health care, life skills preparation and childcare needs so that they can provide both themselves and their baby with a successful life. If we had such programs, a girl could be back to school in a day or two, because she would go back for six to eight weeks to a facility that could provide her with followup and also ensure that the newborn receives the best start in life.

    HOWEVER, lets not treat these young women like victims. While some may have been the victim of rape, they have chosen to continue their pregnancy, and many are pregnant as a result of the predictable result of their own repetitive behavior. Partying, drinking, smoking weed, "hooking up" and never worrying about the future does eventually come home to roost, and these pregnant girls are now paying the piper. I just hope we can make that experience both educational and an area for positive growth. After all, we may just be having this same discussion again in 15 or 16 years!

    January 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  89. Mary Ann Sorrentino

    Of course teen pregnancies are on the rise...All that Bush-supported abstinence training and evangelical virginity ring-swapping hasn't got a chance against racing adolescent hormones and peer pressure.

    What treens need is not only maternity leave if they do have babies, but regular and vigorous sex ed and contraceptive information – in school, and preferably AT HOME from the parents they trust most! Otherwise the once declining teen delivery rate will only escalate again.

    Mary Ann Sorrentino
    former Executive Director – Planned Parenthood of RI

    January 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  90. George

    As absurd as maternity leave for a high school child sounds, what they shouldn't be doing is getting pregnant; not with all that is known to them. However, if they do keep a child after giving birth, maternity leave may be a better alternative to dropping out of school and becoming a professional baby maker on welfare w/o any education.
    Somehow you'd think that we'd be past this stupidity by now. Oh well.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  91. Rocky Boussias

    I believe that this policy is a step in the right direction. We have seen entirely too many young mothers ostrasized due to giving birth at such a young age. This is the world that we live in and I believe that these young women should be given the same rights as the typical mother has, if not more so. It is the education departments job to foster the growth and facilitate the learning of there constituents to the best of their ability. This gives these young women a degree of leniency that will allow them to balance the life of a mother and student when it is most important to do so.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  92. Betty Bruner

    It's quite overwhelming for a young girl to be pregnant, observe differences in her body, have a baby, and then be expected to return immediately to school afterwards. I'm in aggreement that a young girl should be given a minimum of four weeks to recuperate, bond with her newborn, and then, possibly, have someone from her school district tutor her while on leave.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  93. Wes Ketchem

    They are getting time off because they ARE pregnant, not to become pregnant. They should also let the father out of school early each day to work and pay for the medical bills.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  94. Matthew C.

    Jack,

    Pregnant young girls deserve all the help they can get. Colorado has it right in allowing maternity leave- the alternative, well, you get the picture. The key is to stop abstinence-only programs, expand twenty-first century birth control and sex education in schools, and clamp down on deadbeat dads. Girls are becoming fertile earlier due to obesity, the media is saturated with sexual imagery, and we think these young girls are acting irresponsibly? Sorry, Jack, we're the ones who should take some blame. "Juno", anyone?

    January 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  95. Tom

    Jack, the answer to this is yes and no. If the student is white and from a midlle class or upperclass scholol area, the answer is yes. If on the otherhand, she is black or hispanic, no. Isn't this the way it usually works out?

    January 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  96. Cory Soulier

    Jack,

    Offering maternity leave to teenage girls if they get pregnant would further encourage unsafe sex. Not offering maternity leave would help teenage girls think twice before hitting the sheets and giving themselves away. Also teenage boys need to seriously understand the definition of the word 'NO'!

    January 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  97. Noel, MN

    In my second year of high school (class of 2000) one of my classmates gave birth. Though there was no law requiring it, the school gave her 4 weeks maternity leave and customized her schedule so she could spend part of the day with her child while her mom was at work. In our third year, she was quite open about discussing the issue and even spoke at a class retreat. In our senoir year, she was voted class president and graduated top of the class. Sure, she might be an exception to the rule, but at least she had the opportunity.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  98. Bette Banks

    Of course pregnant girls should be given maternity. The world can be a better place if we recognize and deal with situations in the ideal and thoughtful way, rather than concealing within our "judgment" and "decision", critical action based on some kind of 1930s morality.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  99. mark

    Hell no dont give them materinty leave, we cant wait for them to drop out and go on welfare. what dont you understand, that if they dont get an education they get
    welfare. simple choice. by the way do these people making these rules and regulations have an education? Do they pay taxes? What they dont pay enough and want more people on the welfare roles?

    January 9, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  100. Faye

    Yes! I work at a homeless shelter for women and children where more than the majority of women became pregnant while still in high school. Most of them haven't even acquired a high school diploma and are now having to live off of the welfare system. Giving teen moms maternity leave gives them the ability to, and encourages them to, complete their schooling. It gives them and their child a chance at a better life and keeps them from needing to use our tax dollars for sustenance

    January 9, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  101. Bob In Denver

    Jack,
    If these high schools girls are mature enough to become mothers, they should be forced to make the same choice other adults are forced to make, are you a student or a mother. History clearly shows they cannot be both. High school mothers should get out of the system and make way for those who are actually trying to achieve something in their life other than becoming another welfare case. What the hell is wrong with this country?

    January 9, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  102. sally

    What kind of question is that? All new mothers should have at least several weeks off from either a job or school. Anyone who's had a baby knows the exhaustion, physical pain and weakness that follows childbirth. It took me 3 months to feel like a normal human again due to the sleep deprivation alone! It's absurd that any school would think a new teen mother should be able to get right back to school again. Most daycares wouldn't even take newborns so young!

    January 9, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  103. Dan

    Jack,

    I feel that this is actually quite a pragmatic approach to the situation. Being only two years removed from high school and witnessing a number of girls drop out due to pregnancy, I can safely say that if they were granted 4 weeks to recover they would have faired better as far as graduation is concerned. These girls need the time to establish a connection with their child and to figure out with their families how to go forward. One cannot simply pick up the peices and move on with daily life after such an event. It's time we teach empathy and compassion to these girls in this country, rather than shame and blame.

    Dan
    Ashland, Oregon.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  104. Beth

    Yes. I am a junior in high school and one of my friends had a baby in April last year. She came back for the last few weeks of the school year, but I feel that she should have gotten more time to spend with her baby.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  105. Connor J.

    Jack, this is a new manifestation of one of the failed education policies in America: nothing more than abstinance only sex education. Public schools simply tell students that condoms and other contracepts are evil and will give you STDs and pregnancies. As a result, kids don't use condoms. I mean really, why is this an issue? First you teach kids not to use contraceptives and then you tell them they have to go back to school before the're ready thus failing them leaving them to a low standard of living and a bad life for the child. This really isn't fair for our nation's children.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  106. Kathryn

    Childbirth is a medical event under anyone's definition. No obstetrician worth their salt would advice normal physical activity under four weeks post-partum, even without a cesarean section, when a mother has given birth. All the teens are asking for is to have their absences excused, just like anyone else who has undergone a major medical event which was either preventable or unpreventable. Being a teenage mother is hard enough, just look at the statistics. Why make it even harder? They're already being punished.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  107. KLF

    OF COURSE!!!!
    Working women, most anyway, get maternity leave. School IS your work when in high school. It will only encourage these teens to go back and finish their classes. Anybody who disagrees with this is a douchbag.
    No I'm not advocating teen pregnancy, but we have a duty to help these unfortunate mothers as much as we can.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  108. Sam Elakkad

    now that I have answerered you question, bring on Ron Paul. Hes not going to be able to get rid of social security, homeland security, cia, fbi, department of education because Congress won't let him but he has the perfect foreign policy for our saftey and that will improve our economy. We need him as president to balance the crazy Congress that wants to spend all the money. He will lower taxes and introduce competition to health care, which will lower prices and increase quality. Stop pumping government money into these programs that hurt more people than they help, people can make more efficient use of their own money if there were lower taxes, they could afford health insurance and their mortage. Taxing people till they are poor than making programs for them does not work!

    January 9, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  109. Carol Sibley

    Dear Jack,
    Medically, a woman should limit her physical activity (that includes a lot of walking) for 2 weeks after birth to allow the uterine blood vessels to seal off. Other factors may prompt her physician to extend that period. However, I think that a teenage student should be granted leave without penalty only if she receives counseling about effective contraception and begins use of an effective method (this does not include abstinence or rhythm) during that period.
    Carol
    North Carolina

    January 9, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  110. Chris San Marcos, CA

    Jack,

    Perhaps we should consider how quickly such accommodations can become incentives. I'm sure we can all remember the degree pf boredom many of us experienced in high school well enough to know that providing maternity leave for pregnant teens is like providing parole for prison inmates. And, what's next? – drug rehabilitation leave for teens who decide to use drugs? It's time to stop putting band-aids on broken arms and focus on preventing the breaks.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  111. Stephen From Wilmington,NC

    Just another sign of our moral breakdown in this country. I say they sould not be allowed maternity leave but instead made to stay in school where they will at least be able to continue their education. If it shames them to be in school in that condiction well good, it should.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  112. Jerry

    Well isn't that special Jack. Maturnity leave from school will be another way of our socity helping the MORAL DECLINE of our Youth. As We continue to remove God and His Laws from America,which is the reason for such stupid questions in the first place. Jack this kind of thing will continue to increase. Our Future looks REAL GOOD doesn't it. "NOT!!" P.S. Queers will be getting leave from work soon due to a sore ass! What a Country!!

    January 9, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  113. Jean

    Yes, high school girls should be given maternity leave. I agree it's important for the new mother to bond with the baby and its equally important for medical reasons for the mother to stay home and recuperate and it also equally important for these mothers to finish high school and have an opportunity to attend college.

    I have a child in this situation. Her school is going to allow her to have home instruction and can return to school when the doctors releases her. She is doing very well in school and is a A-B student. She is very focused on her studies and is working hard to maintain her grades. She is also attending bithing classes, and classes on how to care for her baby. She has career goals and wants to finish high school and wants to attend college.

    I plan to retire and help her with the baby so she can succeed in life and not let this mistake in judgement stop her.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  114. Steven

    Jack, this is rediculous! Why are we always trying to cater to people that make epicly bad decisions? Mass media inundates children with warnings about teen pregnancy. So when they still are too irresponsible to make smart decisions and keep thier noses clean, they should have a difficult road ahead of them. They earned it! Those are called consequences and we all have to learn to cope. Also, by forcing them to accept thier situation and learn to adapt, it will serve as a very profound warning to other adolescents around them about the sacrifices made by irresponsible teen sex.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  115. eugene,maryland

    teenage pregnancy in this country is an epidemic which has to be dealt with before it goes out of control.while we have to allow these teen mothers time to bond with their babies,we need to try to explain to teenagers that,that is not the right path to follow.there is time for everything including time to give birth.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  116. Patty Craven

    YES, teenage pregnant girls should be given maternity leave. Teenage
    pregnancy is not going to go away. It's best to provide emotional and
    moral support to the girls and for the babies, so they have as positive
    of an experience as possible. The girls should also be assigned an
    advocate, through the school, who could provide many supportive
    services to the girl. If I was a teenage girl, I'd want someone to talk
    to, someone to go to childbirth education classes with me, and an
    experienced woman to advise me about safe birth and successful
    breastfeeding. I'd need someone to be there through the experience so
    it wouldn't be so scary. The advocate could also be very supportive
    regarding the continuation of studies, return to school, and childcare
    resources.

    Patty Craven, Mother of Four
    Denver, CO

    January 9, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  117. Matthew, Albany, NY

    Considering that ethical relativism has dazzled the people of this country and has created an entire generation of impotent parents. I think school districts have no choice but to offer maternity leave. However, I do not think it is absurd to say that this will create an incentive for children to act more irresponsibly. If a child recognizes that the negative consequences of their act will be reduced from these policies, they won't see their behavior as all that risky. I think it is only reasonable that these policies should be accompanied by an aggressive sex education policy that focuses on more than just the proper use of contraceptives, but the consequences of irresponsibility, the effects of broken families in the community and the benefits of abstinence and careful family planning.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  118. Marcas McPhee

    It would be completely irresponsible not to provide these mothers with every opportunity to properly care for their child and continue their education. It is very alarming that teen pregnancy rates are climbing, but not providing teen mothers with time off from school is the equivalent of preventing sex education in an attempt to prevent teenage sex. Once these girls are pregnant it is our moral responsibility to help them deal with their situation.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  119. Alex

    These female teens need to face the reality of being pregnant. It was their decision to have sex, so they need to take the circumstances around them into consideration. On that note, I'm not trying to be rude, but the schools should show no mercy, taking heed that these girls should've thought about what they were doing before they did it pregnant.

    By the way, I'm almost 13 years old, and I know that this is an issue that I could be witnessing very soon, if not now.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  120. Barbara

    First, I can't spell my own name.

    No, the teen-agers shouldn't be given maternity leave. Let them miss a semester of school, and have to make it up during summers and later. Give them condoms and make them attend sex education classes. Give the fathers (if known) the same choices. They are equally 'guilty' and should have the same punishment. School is for education, not for being babysitters because parents won't do it.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  121. James Kiss

    Yes, they should be given maternity leave. All mothers should be granted maternity leave so that she can bond with the child and build a family unit. One of the biggest problems today in the US is that the family is deteriorating. This would go a long way in helping to re-establish a family.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  122. Diana Burns, TN

    Not only should they be given maternity leave, but day care should be set up in the high school. The new parents (mom and dad) should be required to go in and take care of their new baby and help care for other babies along with other new parents and learn parenting skills at the same time. This might eliminate second children before the first one is potty trained and more important, abuse of the child because of frustration of not knowing how to take care of this child. After all, these are children having children.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  123. dennis

    Hey Jack;
    How about a little compassion for the real teenager's of america. Think back to when we were young, It's real tuff to tell the difference between hormones and absentence. These children need all the help they can get which would include maternity leave!!
    dennis

    January 9, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  124. Ken

    Treating mothers, teenage or adult, with respect and allowing them to properly care for their children should not be conditional upon whether people think it's acceptible for the mother to have gotten pregnant at all. Some "traditional" people still find it unacceptable for children to be born out of wedlock. Should single women be prevented from getting maternity leave?

    January 9, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  125. Jason

    The truth is that teens want to have sex, but they are too shy to buy condoms. So they have two choices: not have sex or do so without a condom. If they took measures in high schools to encourage safe sex instead encouraging abstinence we'd see less teen pregnancies. At that stage in their lives the school has little influence on their personal virtues (i.e. abstinence, waiting until marriage, etc.). If these high school girls that are pregnant had any moral qualms with sex, they wouldn't have gotten pregnant to begin with. They're going to have sex regardless. For these teens, preventing pregnancies by encouraging safe sex will cause little need for maternity leave. But for the few that do need it, we should be supportive and do whatever it takes to see to it that they stay in school and graduate.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  126. Jon Dykstra

    The question is complicated because its loaded with a variety of social/political/moral implications. My take is that if the high school student is actually having the baby rather than an abortion its win in any circular setting. Whether the student should be allowed to have maternity leave from school is different than what is appropriate with an employment situation. On one side the student risks falling behind on the other the she is given special treatment. This of course dismisses the very practical and essential need for the mother to recuperate and begin caring for her child. The amount of time given (a decision for each school to make on their own) for a students maternity leave is perhaps most negotiable and perhaps the best solution to such a petty debate. Let’s not be hypocritical and suggest that we believe in strong families and strong education as a nation and yet press for one extreme or the other on this issues.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:37 pm |
  127. Meggan

    Yes, I think these girls should get maternity leave… However before it even comes to this… *All* teenagers should receive comprehensive sex education in school, including access to contraception.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:37 pm |
  128. Jorge, New York, NY

    Even thought i firmly believe that high school girls should not be getting pregnant, schools must do what they can to aid the young mothers, to make sure that they complete thier education. Maternity Leave sounds like a somewhat decent way to help these kids deal with the situation phycologiacly.
    No matter what we tell them, a majority of teenagers will probably have sex. Maybe if schools focused more on teaching students safer sex, as well as the repercussions of having a child at such a young age, instead of forceing abstinence into theyre minds, most of these teen pregnancies might be avoided.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  129. Jessica T.

    Jack, as a new young mother myself, my daughter is 6 weeks old; I feel that it is a very good idea to allow the mothers to have a maternity leave as long as they get their school work done. Also I know now how important it is to be able to bond with my child and feel that it would be vital for young mothers to bond with their babies too. It may help them to not just dump their child on their parents, which is something that I’ve seen a lot of here where I live.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  130. Elaine Smith

    Yes, there should be maternity leave for high school students. I feel it would help many of the mothers come back to high school if they have a baby sitter.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  131. Kym Lamb

    One reason for the high dropout rate among teen moms is perceived peer and authority rejection and shame. Any step toward honest and responsible acknowledgment by authorities that teens are having sex – and that pregnancy happens in some cases – is a step toward keeping these moms in school. Educated moms who are able to find work to support their children and raise them responsibly should be a shared goal in our communities. Maternity leave gives the girls a chance not only to bond with infants and to let their bodies recover from childbirth, but to establish a routine of child care and adjust to their new responsibilities. As to comments about the change encouraging teens to have sex? Wake up. Teenagers are having sex whether you approve of it or not, and whether or not there will be maternity leave. Silly abstinence policies should be replaced with a realistic policy of educating teens about birth control.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  132. Ken KS

    "That;s right, to hell with them. Make em go back to class the next day." That's what this cruel, mean spirited administration would want. Clinton's Surgeon General encouraged teenage sex, Ms. Elders wanted to supply condoms, instead of better education and other alternatives. Bush and Cheney don't care and so they, too have no solution. Perhaps his NCLB program might cover some of the provisions to help these young mothers. Yeah, right.

    I suggest they be given some slack and time, they do need to bond with their child. What has happened cannot be reversed and I'm sure most if not all these girls would do things differently if they could. I, too am not advocating teen pregnancy, but like KLF said, we do have a duty to help these unfortunate mothers as much as we can. I just hope the other partner is made to take responsibility for his part.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  133. James S. Lenon

    No maternity leave. Instead, put them into a program that teaches child care, infant nutrition, basic job skills, basic cooking skills, so that their infants don't wind up malnourished and abused in the ERs., Not all, but many pregnant teens come from dysfunctional families that will not teach them these skills. If we're going to provide tax payer-based education for them, then let's stop pretending that most of them have any intention of graduating high school.

    As for special classes prior to delivery, In my youth lots of girls had mono infections that conveniently lasted 6 months, Maybe that is what the "abstinence only" crowd are preventing, 'cause it sure isn't teen pregnancy.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  134. Steve Yandell - Reading, MA

    Jack,

    Things have certainly changed (sorry, there's the "C" word again!) since you and I were in school. Getting pregnant in high school was once considered totally shameful and was only whispered about. Now we're giving maternity leaves, just like for grownups who work in companies, and who most often have a caring partner or spouse.

    Trouble is, we're not dealing with grownups here. We're dealing with adolescents who, by and large, are not emotionally or financially ready to handle the responsibilities of being a parent. It's not surprising so few complete high school.

    Maybe their parents will watch the child or maybe they've got the resources for day care. Or maybe not. It's another variation of parental involvement (or lack of) with their kids and working with their kids' schools.

    Rather than maternity leaves, I think the new mother (and father) should assume full responsibility for her (their) child and return to school only after she (they)demonstrate she (they) can handle being a parent, if indeed she (they) can.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  135. Denise

    I don't think that teenagers should have maternity leave. How about telling them that they shouldn't have sex in the first place, but if they do there is a thing called protection that can be used to prevent that from happening. What happened to the parents telling their children that it isn't ok to do that before marriage and what about morals?

    January 9, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  136. steven

    Yes, that should be an option, because maternity leaves build relationships between a child and his or her mother. Since we pay alot of taxes to our government, this money should be put to good use. Government should institutionalize programs in accordance with the maternity leave, for instance having programs and counselors that plan for the teen's college education and her child's future. Maternity leaves also alleviate some of the stress that comes with both raising a child and schooling. The schools through education and programs, funded by our tax money should deal with the problem of rising teen preganacies.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  137. Bo

    Absolutely not. They should have to attend school through out the pregnancy and Health class should be scheduled around her so that she can give live birth right in front of all the other students. That will help deter other students from engaging in unprotected sex. Better yet, the school system can have a reality show called " Name that illegitimate child" and air it on national television. Who ever guesses the correct name gets a 5 day all expense paid trip to never never land where they all live happily ever after on welfare and become burdens on society. They likely will anyway.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  138. Tom

    What's the big deal. If home schooling or what ever name you want to give it is acceptable for the children of presidential hopefuls, then what's the problem?. If someone with all the responsibilities of a new mother can find not only the time but the energy to improve themselves and continue their education, they should receive a medal not just grades.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:46 pm |
  139. David

    Jack, while maternity leave for working women is considered by many to be a cornerstone in the bonding process, allowing the same benefits to highschool students is a misguided idea. The last thing that pregnant mothers need, ESPECIALLY considering the high drop out rates, is a legal excuse to skip four to six weeks of class. Prolonged absence from an academic setting can make the option of leaving all together much more inviting. It would seem that rather than a reason to leave, what these teenage mothers need is infact a reason to stay.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:46 pm |
  140. Eric

    Absolutely. I can't imagine how difficult it is to be pregnant and in high school. These mothers should not have the added stress of worrying about "unexcused" abscences. Maybe it's me, but I think that schools should do what they can to assist the students, and the future students.

    January 9, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  141. JUDY MARIE

    BABIES HAVING BABIES!, WHAT IDIOT SAID THEY SHOULD STAY HOME 4 WEEKS? 3 DAY TOPS, & BACK TO SCHOOL THEY GO!. LET HER IRRESPONSIBLE "MOM" OR NOW GRANDMA ENJOY THE DAY!! OUR TAX IS GOING TOWARDS THE YOUNG STUPID TEENS!!!.

    THANK-YOU,

    "JUDY".

    January 9, 2008 at 5:57 pm |
  142. Christie Rickert

    I think that pregnant teens should be given at least 4 weeks of maternity leave. I think that making these teens report to school the day after having the baby is insane!! This will only promote girls from not finishing school and entering college. We should try to promote education rather making it impossible to attain! get real people!!

    January 9, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  143. judy dunigan

    Hey, Jack, how did that gal who has one child and a dog manage to remain a virgin? Are we now witness to another immaculate conception?

    January 9, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
  144. Suzanne Gillingham

    How about a proactive stance in this situation... start daycare 101 at schools and they can bring their babies with them. The world doesn't stop just because you have a child and I don't think it would hurt all high school kids to learn parenting skills before they become parents. I wonder who will pick up the tab for baby sitting while these high schoolers attend school?

    January 9, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
  145. Mary Detroit, Mi

    Pregnant is the new black. With the hollywood influence recently being all about babies, being pregnant in high school doesn't seem that bad. I think teen girls should not get extra time off. This makes it seem like its okay to get pregnant at 14, even 13. Why don't we just let herion addicts in high school have a month off for rehab while we are at it?

    January 9, 2008 at 6:05 pm |
  146. Kianna

    I’m a sixteen year old girl who goes to a continuation high school in Huntington Beach, CA and at my school there are many pregnant students and students who already have children. At the school they offer an on campus day care so the mothers can get a high school diploma with out having to give up being with their child. During lunch the mothers are aloud to see their child and are encouraged to stay in school. Also when its time for the mother to give birth they do get maternity leave and many of the mothers do come back and finish their education. If more school districts offered this program I feel like it would lower un-wed mother dropouts and proves making a mistake in your early life doesn’t mean the rest of your life is taken away from you.

    January 9, 2008 at 6:06 pm |
  147. Lester Ible - St. Kitts

    A resounding yes! Please! Life is full of mistakes and it only takes one to start that turn around process and we should not stifle it. Many won't use that second chance so, let ne honest. However, we cannot afford to not give those who will maximize that second chance the opportunity. What can we lose? We have more to gain than, what we have to lose.

    Keep up the good work Mr. Cafferty

    January 9, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  148. A.K

    Are you people nuts? Maternity for high school students? What's next? Maternity leave for middle school students? I have a friend who became pregnant in high school, and although I support her through it, I certainly do not approve of it. Having maternity leave for knocked up teenagers is ridiculous. Teen pregnancies are already a problem in the U.S because of not only careless teenagers, but careless parents who are oblivious.

    Maternity leave for adults is what made pregnancy normal in America. Having maternity leave for teenagers is going to make teen pregnancy normal. We don't need more careless teenagers. Having maternity leave will only make this situation worse.

    Why not instead have mandatory health class for all schools in the U.S explaining sex, and handing out condoms and/or birth control. Although this seems a little blunt, we would have little to no teen pregnancies.

    January 9, 2008 at 6:25 pm |
  149. Stephany Avren

    Jack, thank you for the story on maternity leave for high school mothers. It reminded me of a situation which occurred some years ago in the 50's: Upon my return to visit the university from which I had just graduated, students on campus told me of the horrendous event which had happened involving the new student living in my former dorm room. It seems the young woman became pregnant , carried her pregnancy to term in secret (although it is hard to imagine hiding the matter, that is the truth), gave birth overnight in the dorm's bathtub, and hid the newborn in her closet space, telling no one until the situation was inevitably discovered upon weekly room inspection.
    Those of us alive today who can remember the '50's will not be surprised at the extremes the mother in this case went to in order to prevent the revelation that would cause her dismissal from the university. Would that story happen today? Most likely not. We've come a long way since those days of prejudice but there's still work to be done. Talking about teen mothers' situations will help further break down the misunderstandings that can hurt young women. And institutions helping where they can in addition to media reporting should assist young parents in living up to difficult obligations
    Steph

    January 9, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  150. Dave Floyd

    Jack:
    There are some serious allegations of fraud in the Diebold voting machines in the NH primary and it is interesting to compare percentages in the 20% where paper ballots were used with the machine reports. I guess that CNN wouldn`t touch this with a 10 ft pole but would be pleasantly surprised to see it investigated . It would seem to redeem the pollsters if this was verified.
    Hopefully
    Dave Floyd
    Boulder City, NV

    January 9, 2008 at 6:39 pm |
  151. Alice Benya

    My daughter runs a Teen age pregnancy program in Flagstaff, AZ. She has been
    doing this for at least 10 years and has seen many success with her students.
    This December she had 12 graduate high school of of those 12 a few were going
    on to college. The best thing these girls can do is get a good education to support
    their babies. This program gives them this opportunity.

    Thank you, Alice

    January 9, 2008 at 6:46 pm |
  152. kwbK.W. Baxter

    Jack, If Clinton wins we will all know what PMS realy means

    January 9, 2008 at 6:56 pm |
  153. Melanie

    To judy dunigan: My parents taught me right! Oh and I was educated in France in which they taught me from 12 years old on to not have unprotected sex, and ever since through High School. And guess what? I have no children, only a dog!

    January 9, 2008 at 6:59 pm |
  154. Luise Perenne

    A question to Melaine who claims to be "21, virgin, with one child "and a dog named Daisy: was this pregnancy accomplished with the usual birth canal delivery" Or did you use aritficial insemination and a Ceasarian-section delivery?
    I'd venture to say that in the Original "parthegenesis" and/or Immaculate Conception as described in the New Testament , Mary of Nazareth was delivered of Her Baby in the traditional method. However did you manage it?

    On another note , after readiing the thread of comments, I think there certainly are a bloody awful lot of misogynists out there. The Puritanical streak seems to be alive and festering. Why are people so quick to condemn teens for being human, when there has been NO official educational effort to explain the healthy and viable alternatives to unwanted pregnancies? Do the Powers-That-Be expect teenagers with their immature minds and raging hormones to perpetually keep their legs crossed?

    January 9, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  155. Rufus

    Oh this is so much better than those sinful contraception programs! And it only underscores how amazingly effective abstinence programs are.

    January 9, 2008 at 8:08 pm |
  156. Lois, California

    Back in the 60s when I was a teen, the idea that girls shouldn't be "forced" to give up their babies for adoption or to marry the father of the baby became popular. It nearly immediately resulted in a jump in the welfare roles. Any teen who chafed under the rules at home, good, bad or indifferent, only had to get pregnant to be set up in an apartment and provided with at least the basic needs for herself and baby. Convenient sex and often more babies ensued.

    By the way, parents used the same argument against teaching youngsters responsible sexuality then as they do now. Kids, in large numbers, somehow manage to figure out how to have sex and make babies regardless.

    Fast forward 50 years. I've been a nurse in neonatal intensive care units for many years and I can promise you that the average teenage girl has little interest in truly learning how to be a good parent. Most are more interested in getting their parents, siblings or friends to care for the child while they continue with the party. Too often, their parents enable the behavior.

    What is the answer? Who knows! We've gotten ourselves into a really fine mess.

    I just don't think making it easier for teens to skip out on responsibilities, whether to themselves, their children or society, is going to fix anything.

    January 9, 2008 at 8:11 pm |
  157. Chris

    Yes, teen mothers should be given maternity leave. Teen pregnancy is a fact of life that we are going have to deal with. We should ensure these young mothers has every oppurtunity available to get thier education. They may have made poor decisions, but their education is the foundation of thier lives, as well as a factor in the growth of the child. They made a bad decision, but everyone does. The older people complaining about their bad decision is the same people who didn't plan for their retirment, and now people my age is stuck paying their social security, but we are not just throwing them out on the streets.

    January 10, 2008 at 1:22 am |
  158. Robert Biers

    Good Lord, listen to all of this. Babies having babies, what will be next. Grad school girls? This society is heading in the wrong direction.

    January 10, 2008 at 7:52 am |
  159. Chandan

    What ever the issue is, is having kid an important thing before u settle down in life like having completed the studies, settling down with career. I dont say those who had kids while studying is wrong, i am just asking are we capable of handling the babies, are we mature enough to give them a good start in their life...
    correct me if i am wrong

    January 10, 2008 at 10:34 am |
  160. Mike

    Jack I See that John Kerry is coming out in support of Barack Obama. Buy what an endorsement. He couldn't get himself elected and hard to believe after selecting John Edwards as a running mate he publicly again shows the world how bad his judgement was. Not to mention I didn't forget how bill Clinton stood by john Kerry's side and went around the country stumping for him. I wonder if he will put a curse on barack obama's election? If i was john Kerry i would go back into hiding like a bear in the winter hibranates.

    January 10, 2008 at 10:49 am |
  161. L F Birkhimer

    The government got my dollars now they want CHANGE too.

    January 10, 2008 at 12:26 pm |
  162. Ash

    Are you seriously telling me this school is considering this? I tend to fall more on the liberal side of views and keep on open mind to every possibility but there is no way I will ever condone nor support a bunch of teenagers (children per se) in high school to take maternity leave from school so that they can have babies.

    If you allow these teenagers to have maternity leave; you are condoning their actions. As adults, we all know what teenagers do in high school and that they have sex; you would be in denial to think any differently. So why not spend more money on sex education in schools, starting in middle school or earlier, so that at least if they are going to have sex maybe they will make smarter decisions while doing it. Mentoring programs should also be implemented into schools at earlier ages so that kids have constant people in their life for them to rely on; that set good examples so that hopefully they wont get pregnant or commit crimes and will learn to make good life decisions.

    January 10, 2008 at 12:59 pm |
  163. Gary In Va

    Dear Jack All of these rich senators as kerry has done absolutely nothing for this country,and I get aggitated when they want to stick together and collect a big paycheck from the american people. Obama I don't know,but I do know Hillary Clinton has worked for people since she got out of law school.I do know her more than anyone and trust her too.In 1999 I could buy gas at 79 cents a gallon. I hope she will be as good as her husband in running this country.My vote goes to Hillary oh yes I am a man

    January 10, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  164. Jerry

    NO, high school isn't a job. They chose to get pregnant by not using safe sex. Tell the mother's this. If you can't complete your school year then you start over the same grade next year. If this is allowed to continue whats next? Letting people who don't want to study just stay home and do their work from home? Hey how about we just give a high school diploma and no one has to work for it. The parents of that child made a poor decision, they have to pay for it. The mother can repeat the grade next year, and the father of the baby can start providing child support. He can get a job after school. No football, no basketball, no golf, no soccer, a job so he can can provide for the child. It is about time people START TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for their actions.

    January 10, 2008 at 7:22 pm |
  165. Jimmie King

    If a young boy breaks the Law, he is punished and in many cases loses out with time lost going to Court, etc., no matter what color he is. If a young girl breaks the Law by getting PG under age, she gets rewarded with 4 ot 6 weeks out of School excused. Something jsut doesn't seem fair here. But what is right and fair anymore in America-???

    January 10, 2008 at 7:38 pm |