YOUNGTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Every year, more than 500 teenagers across the Mahoning Valley get pregnant.
They have their babies or obtain abortions.
27 Investigates tracked down new state reports that show the rates of teen pregnancy are declining all throughout the area, which led reporter Amanda Smith to ask: What’s happening to prevent pregnancy in teens?
Cierra Durr, 15, said she is not having sex, despite a culture that says it might be OK.
“TV shows, it practically shows you it’s OK. And you can do it whenever you want to and there’s no consequences,” Cierra said. “and they use protection and all that stuff, but they don’t show the actual emotional effect.”
New data shows an overall decline in the number of reported pregnancies throughout the Mahoning Valley. The rate of teen pregnancies also is trending down to a current rate of 10.6 percent.
But health officials said that number is still too high, noting unintended and teen pregnancies contribute to the staggering number of infant deaths in this area.
“There is a huge infant mortality problem among births to women under 18,” said Mahoning County Health Commissioner Patricia Sweeney. “There are so many social issues and social supports that are lacking for teens.”
Officials said this lack of support leads to disadvantages for the baby and the mother.
Two things could be contributing to the trend of fewer pregnancies.
“children, teens are having a decreased pregnancy rate because they are, both genders, accessing and using more effective methods of birth control,” Sweeney said.
Operation Keepsake is an abstinence-only education organization that works in local schools. The leaders of the organization said discussing abstinence as part of an overall conversation about health is working.
“what is it that we really need to talk about in order to drive down the teen pregnancy rate?,” said Peggy Pecchio, executive director of Operation Keepsake. “in order to reduce teen pregnancy, we have to start talking about all the other risk factors, that risk factors come in clusters.”
One thing all of the experts do agree on is that parents should have an open and honest dialogue with their children on relationships and sex, starting from a young age.
“we were working with a school because they had an exorbitant number of pregnant sixth-graders. They wanted us to start talking to their fourth-graders,” Pecchio said.
By waiting until high school rolls around, it is just too late.
SOURCE: OHIO DEPT. OF HEALTH
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