Monday, December 16, 2013

What Teen Pregnancy Prevention Means to Me…Now

Before I became the Health Communications Assistant at the SC Campaign, I lived in blissful ignorance of the teen pregnancy issue in South Carolina. I didn't know South Carolina was ranked 11th in the nation for teen pregnancy. I had no idea that only 38 percent of teen mothers graduate high school. My introduction to teen pregnancy came with cold, hard facts, and the harsh reality that we have a lot of work to do in SC. It’s not like I was never exposed to teen pregnancy; several girls in my high school class walked across the stage pregnant to accept their diplomas. In passing, my thoughts were, “Well, at least they’re graduating,” not realizing that those occurrences are anomalies throughout the state.  I didn't care too much about teen pregnancy because it didn’t affect me directly. Ranked 11th in the nation. 38 percent graduation rate. $197 million. Numbers always have a way of grabbing your attention.

Reaching teens in South Carolina requires someone who is able to have a real talk while giving straight answers. As a nation, we are well on our way in doing just that. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that the national teen birth rate has dropped an astonishing 52 percent since peaking in the early 1990s. That’s a leap in the right direction, but we have more work to do. Teen pregnancy isn't something that the state of SC can afford to be complacent about or afford for that matter. In 2008, SC tax payers spent $197 million on costs associated with teen pregnancy.  From an economical stand point, that’s $197 million reasons to get our house in order.  Teen pregnancy isn’t an issue that I acknowledge with vague recognition now. I don’t care about engaging teens because it is my job, I care about it because we need to continue making headway with this issue. The numbers opened my eyes, and if 2013 is any indication, we are moving in the right direction.

by Shana Adams, Health Communications Assistant, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

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