I hear whispers as I walk along my road, long stares and dirty looks. My pace increases as my nerves kick in. I look up, I look down, left and right. I’m tired now, tired of not being able to walk confidently down my street without the constant remarks. Tired of not being able to go out and have fun with my friends. Of not being able to eat as much junk as I want and feel no way fat. Fear that dress that reveals a little too much leg. I miss being carefree. I made the decision to grow up too quickly, thinking it was OK as everyone else was doing it. I guess I’m just another statistic. I’m 14 and I’m pregnant.

Many teenage girls in our society find themselves in certain predicaments as a result of “YOLO” moments. They allow their “current” feelings and emotions to take over and determine their next moves, without considering the consequences of their actions. So narrow-minded, they are blinded by their thoughts of what they presume to be normal against what is in actual fact right. When it all blows apart and their lives suddenly turn upside down, they then ask what went wrong and why it happened to them. He leaves her broken, broken down for days, months, years even. Insecurities build. I am not pretty enough, smart enough – some of the few questions they find themselves asking. Trying hard to pick herself up, she stumbles right back down. She is so weak she gives in and right back to square one she goes.

With broken dreams and lost hope, she becomes familiar with a life of dependency. Too exhausted to break free from the cycle that is associated with state benefits. Ready to accept and settle for a life of brokenness. Broken dreams, a broken home, a broken heart. Lost sight of her value and worth, she wanted to feel loved, feel needed. She liked the attention, just never realised the weight that her thoughtless choices had.

Although the teenage pregnancy rate in Britain has declined over the years, it still remains the highest in Western Europe. The question is what are we now doing as a society to change this? Is it a reality we have simply accepted, rather ignorantly placing judgement on our young mothers or do we seek to educate our young girls on knowing their value and valuing their worth? Do we explain the distorted reality of such images and advertisements, which portray sexual attractiveness as the height of success for girls? And do we aim to transform and inspire, encouraging our teen mums that a future still awaits? A future with their dreams ready to be chased and fulfilled.

Jacqueline Owusu