By Roneisha Jackson
the Durham Voice
I think that many teenagers these days are taking one too many risks.
One risk that teens think may be a game is sex and pregnancy.
Research I found shows that teen pregnancy in Durham is still a big deal.
Even though studies reveal that teen pregnancy rates have been dropping in North Carolina over recent years, for Durham the rates have been steady and even rising.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1957 was the peak year of teen births in the U.S.
Here are some quick facts about pregnancy in Durham:
- According to the 2010 State of Durham County’s Health Report, Durham had the 24th highest teen pregnancy rate in the state including six pregnancies among ages 10-14.
- According to the March 2011 Durham Community Indicators Progress Report, in 2005 the teen pregnancy rate was 64.7 per 1,000 teens but in 2009 it was 68.7 per 1,000 teens.
- According to the 2010 State of Durham County’s Health Report, 31% of teen pregnancies in 2009 were by girls ages 15-19 that have been pregnant before.
I have noticed more teens in the community becoming pregnant, and I’ve also noticed that many of them drop out of school.
I recently talked to Corliss Galloway, a registered nurse for 15 years who now works as nursing manager for the Holton Career and Resource Center, Lyon Park and Walltown clinical centers.
She said that many pregnant teens she sees are age 16 or older and many show up at the Center by themselves.
Galloway has lived and worked in Durham for 11 years and said that she would call the rate of teen pregnancy in town “high”. She thinks more kids are getting pregnant because they are not educated as they should be nor taking into consideration the contraceptives available to them.
I find this to be very true because I think parents and schools are not enforcing information as much as they should in their homes and schools.
“I don’t know a strategy for this problem,” said Galloway. “All I can do is continue to drill in their heads how important sex is. You don’t have to rush when you are a teenager.”
“It’s okay to be a virgin,” she said.
Some girls may fall victim to peer pressure or think it’s cool to have a baby when they are young, but it might not be all that it’s made out to be.
Latoya Denny is a young mother who I know living in Durham. Although she had her baby at 21, she still says at that age it was not easy.
“It is better to have a child when you are an adult and have your priorities in order,” said Denny. “It makes things a lot easier.”
I think anyone can see it’s hard sometimes for fully adult women to take care of babies as well.
Just think about what that means for a teen mom. For a teenager, time might be short to do mother/child activities when she may still be in school.
Denny told me that being a young mother is time-consuming and expensive. She works during the day while her son is in daycare and makes time for him in the evenings and on weekends to do family activities.
Many teen mothers can barely support themselves and lean on family for help.
Unlike some teen mothers who may not have significant support from others, Denny said that she had the support of her family and her child’s stepfather.
Now imagine raising a child at an age far younger than 21.
Chanesha Young, 16, is a Durham teen who had her son at age 14.
She said her mom was understanding of her pregnancy and said that she’d be with Young “the whole way.”
Young said that her baby’s father is not around and she too depends on family for most of her support since she is currently unemployed.
Teen girls who think they may be pregnant can talk to school guidance counselors, visit the Durham County Health Department or one of the local clinics for help.
Galloway told me she suggests that teens reach out to Planned Parenthood for help or even look at adoption if need be.
I think that sometimes adoption is very hard for anyone, especially teens, because they may become too attached to a child to give it up. But options should be studied carefully.
Because peer pressure is so big among teens, it’s often up to young girls to be responsible in relationships if young men are not.
Galloway suggested that teens take advantage of condoms and other contraceptives if “they feel that they can’t wait.”
As she said, sex at an early age can lead to more dangerous things — like STDs.
Just a little something for teens to think about.