Teen pregnancy called crucial community problem - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Teen pregnancy called crucial community problem

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Many of you were shocked when we told you Tuesday night that a 14 year old Albany girl is under investigation because she had two babies who died in the last year. Leaders of organizations that try to prevent teen pregnancy are not surprised.

There are literally dozens of organizations in Albany working to prevent teen pregnancies. From city and county government leaders, to hospitals, schools, churches, and youth organizations. Statistics show the teen birth rate in Albany has declined by 32 percent since 1994, but there is still a long way to go.

Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards says his office is concerned serious crimes could occur because of teen pregnancies.   "Babies having babies,"said Edwards.

A 14 year old Albany middle schooler is under investigation after her two children died. September 22nd the teen was visiting this home, when her 4 month old son died. We want to make clear that the young mother did not live at this home and never did. She was only visiting. Last week the teen's second child died during pre-mature birth.

 Edwards said "teen pregnancies feeds into a lot of our social ills here in our town."

The D.A. is just one of dozens of city leaders saying the teen pregnancy problem must be a community goal.

There are 341 pregnancies a year involving girls ages 15 to 19.   That is 6 a week. Almost one fourth occur among girls who have already been pregnant at least once before.

The CDC says teen mothers have a much higher risk of poverty, medical and education problems, and being involved in crimes. The cost to Dougherty County taxpayers was 5 and a half million dollars.

A number of organizations like the Phoebe Network of Trust are working to help the problem.

Network of Trust School Health Program Director Angie Barber said "What is going on? Why do some youth make the decision to be active sexually when they are 14. We all know that is something that is a decision that a child of 14 should always be able to say No."

There are many organizations offering help to teens that are pregnant,  and to teens and parents to try to prevent more pregnancies. Even law enforcement says babies having babies is a community issue that has too high a cost for everyone.

The Network of Trust has nurses in every school to provide counseling on teen pregnancy, and they provide materials to organizations helping teenagers with life changing decisions. Because it all comes down to the teens making important choices, that could affect them and babies for years to come.

Dougherty County Child Death Investigators are still waiting on forensic reports from the crime lab in the death of the first child in September. No criminal charges have been filed.

For more information about Albany's child pregnancy problem, you can call the Network of Trust at 889-7360.


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