Teenage pregnancy’s toll

Published 2:21 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Crisis is a situation that has the ability of producing a highly undesirable outcome. According to the CDC, in 2006, the teen birth rate rose significantly for the first time in 14 years. Children are having children; about three in 10 girls are pregnant before the age of 20. Often referred to as teenage pregnancy; however, many are not yet teens.

In this nation, teenage pregnancy cost taxpayers a whopping $7 billion a year. The state of Georgia ranks eighth as having the highest pregnancy rate in the nation.

In 2004, teen childbearing cost taxpayers in Georgia $344 million. In 2006, about 17,450 babies were born to teen girls; even more devastating, 478 babies were born to girls aged 10-14! At present, approximately two teens become pregnant in Georgia every hour of the day. Teen pregnancy is a crisis situation and negates public attention immediately.

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Teen pregnancy has affected Georgia with many undesirable outcomes.

Babies that are born to teens are more likely to be premature and smaller in size; thus placing them in need of more medical attention because of the likelihood of having health problems. Over 85 percent of teens giving birth in Georgia are covered by Medicaid. Therefore, Medicaid will continue to cover these babies with health problems. Most of the teen mothers (three out of five) end up on welfare. As a result, the taxpayers will continue to pay out more money toward this entity.

The future of the teen mother is affected. The socioeconomic status for the teen mothers is usually low. Less than four out of 10 mothers graduate from school. In fact, 78 percent of children born to teens drop out of high school or live in poverty.

How do we respond to this crisis known as teenage pregnancy in Georgia?

For starters, we begin with the schools. The children that are becoming pregnant are attending school. We can no longer leave it up to the parents alone to deal with teen pregnancy. I would like to propose a policy that would mandate sex education to be taught in the schools. Teens need to be taught the devastation and repercussions that teen pregnancy places on the economy as well as how it complicates their future. Teen mothers who are in school should be mandated to remain in school and graduate.

We as taxpayers are paying for teen pregnancy. No one is pointing fingers at anyone, but it is time for everyone to take responsible roles in dealing with this crisis. In order to bring up productive members of this society, preventing teenage pregnancy is a must!

Sherria Mitchell-Norwood, RN BSN