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May 5th, 2011
05:11 PM ET

Dr. Drew: Tough, grown-up choices for teen moms

May 4: Not a holiday. Not a special occasion. But it is one of the most important days of the year - The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Too many of our children are having children.

The U.S. has double the teen pregnancy rate of Canada. It’s four times greater than in Germany and France. And eight times higher than in Japan. America’s rate of teen pregnancy is the highest in the developed world. I’d love to focus on the fact that fewer teens are having babies now, than 20 years ago. But I can’t. Not today, anyway.

I work with MTV’s “Teen Moms." I come face-to-face with young girls who are pregnant - 16-year-old girls who may have to failed to use protection or have used it correctly. They are shocked to find themselves in “trouble."

There’s shame, fear, uncertainty and worse: the realization that they will either have to raise a baby or make an adoption plan. No proms, no college, no fun, no money and maybe... no boyfriend. Teen mothers Maci, Farrah and Catelynn can relate. They told me their cautionary tales on HLN’s “Dr. Drew.”

Opinion: MTV's 'Teen Mom' glamorizes being pregnant

I call it the real reality. They don’t live glamorous lives. They do not glorify their situations. The show doesn’t. And neither do I. Raising a child is tough for anyone. Raising a child without adequate money and means is beyond difficult. Ask the “Teen Moms” and they will tell you that no amount of attention takes the problems away. It may even aggravate them.

Opinion: Why I created MTV's '16 and Pregnant'

Would Maci, Farrah and Catelynn do things differently if they could start over? You bet. And they want other teens to know that.

Teen pregnancies change lives, usually not for the better. And let’s not forget the children. Kids have a better chance of making it when they have stable, mature moms and dads.

This is not an indictment of single parents. Millions of responsible men and women raise boys and girls who become productive, positive adults. And I don’t want to demonize teen mothers. So many of them are admirable people, who face the challenges head-on. But let’s ask our children to wait to have sex. It’s right to wait. And when they do, we can’t just hope they are armed with information and good judgment. Parents, talk to your kids about having babies.

That’s the purpose of a National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. It's a conversation you won't regret. And kids, think very hard about what you're doing. It’s not just your life you may be changing.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.