November 28, 2007 Albany -- Georgia has the 8th highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. But the numbers in Dougherty County are even higher than the state average, with 70 of every thousand girls getting pregnant before the age of 19.
So why are the numbers so high here? And what can be done to lower them?
There are at least two new teenage pregnancies every day in Southwest Georgia. We know the how. The question now is why is that rate so high?
"Albany, Savannah, and Dalton, Georgia. We are three that have some of the highest statistics in the state," says Angie Barber of the Phoebe Putney Network of Trust.
"We all sit in areas where our literacy rate is lower, our dropout rate is higher which can in fact lead to more risky behavior and so that in itself brings in more teen pregnancy in a region," said Barber.
On the average, 62 of every 1,000 girls in Georgia get pregnant before the age of 19. But in Dougherty County, it's worse. "We are right about 68."
The numbers for Dougherty County are shocking, but here's another surprising, but good statistic. One organization is dropping those rates and helping girls chose a better path.
Of all the girls who've participated in Girls Inc since the 70s, less than 2% have become pregnant while involved in this program.
"We're really proud of that statistic and we attribute it to our relationships that we have with them, our co-parenting that we do with their parents as well as our programs," says Lakisha Bryant of Girls, Inc.
At Girls Inc., age appropriate classes are taught to the girls about the changes that occur to and the choices they have with their bodies. They're also taught to practice abstinence, and to focus on their futures.
"There's so many other things to be focused on other than becoming sexually active," said Bryant.
And the more girls are involved in programs like Girls Inc, the less likely they are to end up pregnant. It's all about knowledge, skills and values.
Girls Inc is available to any girl between the ages of seven and 18 in Dougherty or Terrell Counties.
Next Week, the Georgia Campaign for adolescent pregnancy prevention is meeting in Albany to discuss 15 by 15, a program to reduce the adolescent pregnancy rate by 15 percent by the year 2015.