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“Babies are a gift from God,” is a phrase I’ve heard since I was young. However, being a teen mom in high school can sure make you feel as though that’s far from the truth. Teen pregnancies are underrated and a lot harder to experience than people anticipate.

This is my senior year of high school and the amount of hate I’ve seen teen moms receive is baffling. So many mothers hide the news, but feel pressured to share when they begin to show. Almost anything is better than being talked about or having rumors spread about you.

Being able to balance high school and life is hard enough. Now imagine adding pregnancy/motherhood to the picture. It becomes that much more unbearable.

In high school, the moment the news that someone is pregnant is known, it spreads faster than wildfire. From each class to the next, that news is all that is being spoken about.

Imagine walking the school halls and everyone is staring at you, trying to get a look at your baby bump. Teachers will even ask their students, “Is so and so really pregnant?” You feel so embarrassed, and there’s no reason to be.

I asked a peer of mine about their pregnancy, and the response I received was, “I would say there was never really a bright side of my pregnancy because of the gossip. Every time I would walk into a place, people would look at me with disgust because of seeing me so young with a baby on the way.”

Not only were these moments challenging for her, but once the baby came, it got even worse.

“The hardest part came after the baby was born. I was getting up almost four times a night and still needed to wake up early for school five days a week,” she said.

Despite the struggles of being a new mom, these teen moms still have to put up with their peers continuing to do and say whatever they please, even though they may be ignorant of the entire situation.

To make matters worse, a lot of the school staff won’t even handle the mistreatment that teen moms receive.

“They could care less if students are 'bullying' you. They’ll act like they don’t hear or see anything,” said another teen mom. “Teachers would sit there and say how it isn’t their fault that you didn’t finish your work, that it’s because you’re pregnant."

To top that off, some of the students who congratulate teen moms on their pregnancies will be the people who are spreading rumors, calling them “dirty” or “fast.” They’ll even go the extra mile and judge these moms on how they’re raising their child, without having raised one themselves.

The majority of us don’t know how it feels to be in their shoes. Most teens in high school don’t bother to think about how hard it might be for these teen moms to get support or raise a child, some on their own. Adding stress to their already stressful lives isn’t right.

It saddens me that this is the norm for most teenage mothers in high school. Teen moms constantly feel as though they are having to prove themselves to their bullies, to show that they too can accomplish their goals. There’s this stigma that once you’re a teen mom, your life is over, and that’s not an idea I want to be perpetuated any longer.

We need to all do better as people and be more kind. This would make life so much easier for all parties.

Anna Celina Garcia, 18, is a Hammond High School student and a member of the North Township Trustee's Youth Steering Committee. The opinions are the writer's.

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Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.