The central question posed in this week's cover story is this: Can teaching rebellious young girls how to become old-school "ladies" save them from a cycle of teen pregnancy and poverty?
Teen pregnancy is a riddle in Texas, a state that has the second-highest teen birthrate in the country behind California. Abstinence-only education doesn't work. And, as of 2004, teen childbearing in Texas was costing taxpayers at least $1 billion, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Not to mention that teen pregnancy is the single greatest factor in determining future poverty and homelessness for women and children.
This week's paper version of Unfair Park explores how one sexually active teen girl (Nyjai) was impacted by a debutante course designed by an advocate who was once a teen mother herself (Trenette Wilson). The 16-week course culminated in a June 13th formal debutante ball at the Hilton Anatole. Patrick Michels put together this video (a mini-documentary, really) from the ball, which includes the ring ceremony during which the girls promise to evermore abstain -- and if they were already sexually active, well, they get to be virgins again. Symbolically, of course.
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