May 27, 2008
Dougherty County has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state.
Nearly 350 Dougherty County teenagers get pregnant every year - that's 87 out of every one thousand teens, and 25 percent of them already have at least one child.
This is a problem that has far-reaching affects. Babies born to teen mothers are at greater risk of problems in school, foster care, jail, and repeating the pattern of teen pregnancy.
The young mothers are more likely to drop out of school, to have larger families and single parent households, which health workers say continues the cycle of poverty.
And just because you aren't a teen or don't have a teenager, don't think this doesn't affect you.
In 2004 alone, teen births cost Dougherty County taxpayers six million dollars.
As this problem continues to grow, we as a community, must seek solutions.
We commend Girls' Inc. for its "Baby Think It Over" program, in which girls ages 11 to 14 take home baby simulators that cry, coo, and even have to be changed.
This three-month exercise is to educate adolescents about the responsibilities of parenthood.
We call on all of you to reach out to teenage girls in your neighborhoods, churches, schools, social clubs.
Encourage them to participate in educational programs on teen pregnancy, even offer to drive them there. It's up to us to put our teens on a better path.
This is one area where we don't want the distinction of being number one in the state.