The State Comptroller’s office released teen pregnancy rates by county, and several counties in our area are seeing those rates drop.
Tennessee law says that if a county has more than 19 pregnant teens for every 1,000 girls, the school has to implement a family life education program.
News 5’s Kristi O’Connor talked to educators about how sex education programs are improving the numbers.
Teen pregnancy: An age-old issue educators continue to try and reduce.
“I would like to think that our health education classes are reducing unprotected sex,” Unicoi County Health Department Health Educator Ashley Davies said.
Davies is a Unicoi Health Department educator. She’s been going into Unicoi County Schools since 2013. That’s the year Unicoi County saw a major dip in teen pregnancy.
In 2012, there were 34.2 pregnant teens for every 1,000 girls, ages 15 to 17.
In 2013, that number dropped to 10.3 pregnant teens for every 1,000 girls.
Director of Schools John English says it’s the health education classes that have improved these numbers.
“A lot of students aren’t aware of the financial burdens, the lack of education that sometimes comes along with the teenage pregnancy, so just getting to think about their choices and what it’s going to mean for them in the future I think that can definitely be a wake up call to create some awareness,” Davies said.
Other counties like Hawkins, Sullivan and Washington County, Tenn. have also dropped, while Johnson County rates are on the rise.
Carter County has decreased since 2010, Coordinator of Health Beth Bare says health education has played big part, and keeping students involved after school doesn’t hurt either.
Their going to be home in that critical 3 to 6 hour time period, so just having them busy and having something to do and receive tutoring and all those extracurricular activities has really made a difference,” Bare said.
Ashley Davies says teen pregnancy rates decreasing is part of a national trend as well. She says that’s because of an overall awareness and reality of having a child as a teen.