Teen mothers balance parenting with trying to finish high school

Posted at 12:11 AM, May 23, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-23 17:53:23-04

SOUTH JORDAN -- In Utah, 32 out of 1000 girls between 15 and 19 get pregnant every year. Some admit they wanted to have a baby at such a young age but the reality now gives them a whole new perspective.

FOX 13 talked with several teen mothers who attend Valley High School. The school caters to adolescent mothers who aim to finish their high school education while getting free daycare.

“I know it was going to happen. I was thinking, ‘yeah, I’d love to be a mom,’” explains Brittani Doan, who was only 13 when she became pregnant.

The girls, barely old to take care of themselves were thrust into motherhood and the hard realities it entailed. The idea of being pregnant, or for some, the joy over someone new to love, began to fade.

“The toughest part is giving everything up, watching all your friends go out on the weekends and not getting invited anymore,” says Meredith Allen.

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For Allen, the difficulty of raising a child kept her from going to high school. So she came to Valley High in South Jordan, where childcare is offered so she can complete her schooling.

“If I wouldn't have come to Valley, I would have dropped out. I absolutely could not do it without Valley,” said Katarina Herrera.

With a world of unknowns out there for the young mothers, the high school offers them more than the basic curriculum, but a counseled support system to help them handle their emotions and make good decisions.

“I don't want to be a mom stuck on welfare,” says Herrera.

The girls explained their situations prior to getting pregnant. Sex was a subject not necessarily taken seriously. Some of them said their friends made it sound alluring. They say now the fathers of their children, for the most part, are out of the picture.

Teen pregnancies along the Salt Lake Valley are highest on Salt Lake's west side. The Glendale area has the highest statistic with 95 out of every 1000 girls getting pregnant between the ages of 15 and 19.

 The statistics are very real for a girl like Tiffany Alexander, who became pregnant at 15.

“The freedom is gone,” she says.

The girls learn to solve difficult life lessons while they themselves are still growing up.