Are Young Mother’s Affected by Statistics and Stereotypes?

With 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom being in MTV’s top 5 rated shows, the topics of teen pregnancy and teen motherhood are fairly popular. The topic of teen pregnancy has caused foundations such as DoSomething.Org and The National Campaign to spread statistics regarding teen mothers in attempts to lower teen pregnancy rates. Some of the statistics being publicized include, “Less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30” and “More than half of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager. In fact, two-thirds of families begun by a young, unmarried mother are poor” (dosomething.org). So how does this make young mothers feel?

Devin Smiddy, a twenty-two-year-old mother of a three-year-old daughter, shares her opinion on the statistics being stated about the category that she falls into.

Kaylee Geiler, a nineteen-year-old mother of a one-year-old daughter follows in Smiddy’s footsteps with feelings of inaccuracy and remorse.

Where there is an overgeneralized belief, stereotypes can arise. Where there are stereotypes, there is hurt. Does the way an individual is treated affect him or her regardless of accuracy?

A study was conducted by Robert Rosenthal in 1963 to test the Pygmalion Effect, a phenomenon that expectancies influence performance. In the study a class of students were given an IQ test. The teacher was then told an IQ for each of the students regardless of accuracy. Throughout the year the interactions between the teacher and students were monitored. Towards the end of the year the students were given another IQ exam. The results showed a spike in score for the students that the teacher believed were already “academic bloomers”. The findings of the study supported the belief that higher expectancies lead to higher performance and lower expectancies lead to lesser performance.

If expectancies influence performance then are the statistics being publicized causing young mothers to give up on themselves? If the Pygmalion Effect is accurate then the stereotypes and statistics presented are feeding into a black hole that young mother’s will have to fight their way out of.

Morgan Herrig

Sources

Facts About Teen Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2015, from https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-teen-pregnancy

Shows. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2015, from http://www.tv.com/shows/network/mtv-music-television/

THE ROSENTHAL EXPERIMENT. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2015, from https://sites.google.com/site/7arosenthal/

The Pygmalion Effect. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2015, from http://www.duq.edu/about/centers-and-institutes/center-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-and-learning/pygmalion

Why it matters. (2012, July 1). Retrieved December 4, 2015, from https://thenationalcampaign.org/sites/default/files/resource-primary-download/childbearing-education-economicwellbeing.pdf