When she was growing up, Dr. Christine Stroble ’93 was determined that she wouldn’t become a statistic.
“My greatest fear was having a teen pregnancy,” says Stroble. “My mom was a teen mom, and I knew her struggle. I escaped, but some of my friends did not.”
Stroble has now dedicated her life to helping pregnant and parenting teens to know their rights and complete their educations. She is the author of a new book, “Helping Teen Moms Graduate: Strategies for Families, Schools and Community Organizations,” and the founder of Teen Moms Anonymous, a community-based support group for teen moms who are trauma survivors.
Stroble will give a talk, “Inspiring Students to Overcome Life Challenges and Lead a Purposeful Life,” at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15 in Leonard Auditorium. The talk is free and open to the public.
During her talk, Stroble will discuss her journey and her writing process. She also will address overcoming obstacles and living purposeful lives.
For “Helping Teen Moms Graduate,” Stroble interviewed 10 women who all experienced teen pregnancy in high school, graduated on time and went on to college. Only about 50% of teen mothers complete their high school education by the age of 22.
“They all told me what they endured – the shame and the judgement,” Stroble says. “That’s my number one advice, don’t judge.”
Stroble says educators need to be aware that Title IX applies to more than athletes and provide support for pregnant and parenting teens rather than pushing them out of school.
“When talking about teen pregnancy, preventing it is the ultimate goal, and it is essential that we maintain a focus on prevention,” Stroble says. “But we must also focus on helping teen moms graduate. Teen moms need, at minimum, a high school diploma to provide for themselves and their children financially. Without a high school diploma, their earning potential is limited.”
Stroble’s research for the book led her to start Teen Moms Anonymous. She found that as many as two-thirds of young women who become pregnant as teens were sexually and/or physically abused at some point in their lives, and that more than 50% of teen mothers are in violent, abusive or coercive relationships just before, during or after their pregnancy.
Teen Moms Anonymous meets at the Spartanburg County Public Libraries branch in Inman, South Carolina. Information about the group can be found at teenmomsa.org.
“Each teen mom has her own story, but teen moms collectively have a tale of violence and abuse,” Stroble says. “Our mission at Teen Moms Anonymous is to help teen moms who are trauma survivors heal so that they can attach and support the healthy emotional development of their children.”