Paying girls NOT to get Pregnant

How about this for incentive:  Pay your daughter to not get pregnant.

There is actually a program called College Bound Sisters at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.  The goals of the program are to help girls graduate high school, enroll in college while avoiding pregnancy and they incentivize the girls with a $7 a week payment into an account they can access once enrolled in college.  The program is aimed at teenage girls aged 12-16 who has never been pregnant but who has a sister who had a baby before age 18.  They must want to go to college and must attend a weekly meeting.

This is an interesting twist on my previous blog post:  Stop Praising Your Kids for Their Achievments.

I admire the nobility of the program, helping at risk teens avoid pregnancy is a fantastic goal.  The facts are that teen pregnancy is a leading correlative factor in lifetime poverty.  A lack of education being an additional correlative factor.  Getting girls to avoid pregnancy and get an education not only helps them but it helps our soceity as a whole.  So bravo to the women in the nursing department at UNC Greensboro for this excellent and noble effort.

But…you knew there was going to be a but, let’s be smart about the particulars.  Incentivizing behavior that should be considered normative, healthy and base line does not ultimately solve the problem.  Picture the nightmare scenario if this program goes national, and teens around the country begin to demand their payment for not getting pregnant.  Or the reverse scenario from the smart bribery tendency child:  “Give me money or you may get a grandchild…some things just happen you know.”

I have a hard time being critical of this program because it is well intentioned, I wish more people would serve others in this manner, but I am really uneasy about the implications of paying people for good behavior.

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  • If I may, I’d like to point out another flaw of this approach: It only addresses half the behaviour. It’s an understandable outcome-based approach: pregnancy in the female can be confirmed or denied where sexual behaviour in the male cannot.

    That doesn’t remove the accountability issues of male behaviour, or address the questions of male-female peer pressure, or the question of aborting (or being coerced to abort) without consideration, simply to maintain the status quo.

    One thing I’ve never heard mentioned is any kind of program targeting boys whose older brothers have gotten a girl pregnant. In fact, in our social mindset, we hardly take such an idea seriously. This psychological leveraging of burden onto the young girls is one of very few areas where I have to agree with secular feminists and say something is dreadfully wrong here.

    I have yet to see real success from people applying behaviour modification to moral issues. But it’s a worldview flaw of our culture that says it’s the way to go.

    Regards,
    Cat (@lifeledlearning)

    • stevebag

      Cat,
      You may, especially if you are going to add such good observations. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I chuckled at your comment about targeting boys, and you are so right. And really the male is technically the active party where the girl may have the outlet of claiming some measure of passivity. The male actually has to do something, the female can do nothing and still have the same result.

      Blessings,
      Steve