Dr. Patricia Flanagan, director of the Teens with Tots program at Hasbro Children's Hospital and a leader of the Rhode Island Alliance, says a central goal of the effort is to reframe teenage pregnancy.
If it is no longer seen as a mere moral concern, or a "girls issue," or an inevitable byproduct of poverty, but as a public health issue, she says, the conversation changes. It is not just about Planned Parenthood, or birth control, or abstinence-only education anymore, but about talking with kids early about their reproductive plans, their family plans, their life plans.
It's about bringing new voices into the conversation: small businessmen or college administrators, for instance, who lose when a newly trained employee or newly enrolled student walks away after having a child.
And "Children of Children," Flanagan says, seems a potent way to start that broader discussion.
Becky, 16, tilts her head to the right and holds her baby daughter on her chest. She has four brothers and sisters, she says. Good parents. Strict parents. When she found out she was pregnant, she felt desperate. Wondered, briefly, if jogging might prompt a miscarriage.
"I cried and I cried and I couldn't tell him," she says, recalling her effort to deliver the news to her father. Later, she says — choking up at the recollection — she finds her mother in tears. "I had never felt so hurt in my life," she says.
Her family has been very supportive, she says. But it's hard. "My dad tells me, in fact he just told me yesterday: 'she's perfect, she's perfect. It's just the wrong time.'"