How Being '16 And Pregnant' Affects The High School Dropout Rate

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By Lauren Mann of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

When Summer found out she was pregnant, she still had a year-and-a-half left of high school, and since her home wasn’t a stable environment for a baby, she moved in with her boyfriend DJ’s family. There was one condition, though: She had to finish high school. Sadly, the young mom just couldn't stick with the program.

Getting pregnant is one of the leading reasons that girls drop out of school. Unfortunately, only 38 percent of teen mothers get a high school diploma by age 22 and only 2 percent earn their college diploma by age 30. Summer was determined to beat the statistics, but once Baby Peyton arrived, she realized it wasn't going to be easy to balance her studies with motherhood. She had doctor's orders to take classes from home, but with DJ working full-time, she couldn't manage to catch up on her schoolwork while caring for Peyton around the clock.

Ultimately, Summer decided to give up on finishing high school and get her GED instead, like DJ did. Her loved ones, including DJ’s family, felt disappointed in her: His dad had hoped she would stay in school and his sister worried she wouldn’t have as many opportunities as someone with a high school diploma. His mom called the GED an easy way out -- it’s the “Good Enough Diploma,” she phrased it -- yet while Summer knew she'd let down everyone around her, she felt like the choice was the best for her and Peyton.

Much like they were for Summer, a child of a teen mom, the odds are stacked against Peyton as well. The children of teen mothers tend to struggle more in school themselves and only about 75 percent of children born to teen mothers earn their high school diploma. As Summer settles into parenthood over time, hopefully she will be able to revisit the idea of furthering her education.

For more on Summer's episode, take a look at the discussion guide at Stay Teen.org. Plus, visit MTV’s It’s Your Sex Life website for info on teen pregnancy and sexual health.