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.