Almost 90 Teens Are Pregnant or New Moms at One Memphis High School
Although the U.S. teen birth rate is the lowest in recorded history, Frayser High School in Tennessee has nearly 90 girls who are either pregnant or have given birth in the last year.
The large number of student pregnancies at the High School has led to a teen pregnancy rate of 26% in the city of Frayser itself.
The average national teen pregnancy rate is 10%.
The high pregnancy rate has prompted a non-profit group called Girls, Inc. to launch a new campaign called “No Baby!” The program will help female teenagers obtain the knowledge and resources needed to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Deborah Hester Harrison, a spokesperson with Girl’s Inc., said the new program will also provide young teens with the willpower to just say “no” to having sex. Girl’s Inc. also provides support to help new moms cope with unexpected life changes.
According to MyFoxMemphis, Memphis City Schools does not keep statistics for teen pregnancies. However, the school system reports that 245 female students were enrolled in a “Homebound Program” that allows teachers to visit with students in their own homes after they’ve given birth. This is done to ensure that new mothers don’t fall behind in school.
There are plenty of challenges for both a teenage mother and the baby, most of which are well documented. Low birth rates, premature births, pregnancy-induced hypertension and a general unpreparedness to fully provide for a newborn are all reasons for teenage girls to avoid having sex. To make matters worse, there does not seem to be an OBGYN in Frayser (according to MyFoxMemphis), which could lead to further complications for babies born to teenagers.
In addition to providing the “No Baby” program, Memphis City Schools also provides support for new mothers with help from a grant with Shelby County. The grant is helping to put programs in place district-wide to address pregnancy and infant mortality rates. Benefits also include hiring nurse practitioners for city schools, hiring five social workers for the school system, and providing a baby story that includes coupons so that teens can buy car seats and diapers, if they attend special programs.
The high pregnancy rates in Memphis are even more shocking if one considers the current, record-breaking, low teen birth-rate in the U.S. The 2009 birth rate for U.S. teens dropped to 39 births per 1,000 girls who were aged 15 through 19. This represented a 6 percent decline from the previous year, and the lowest since 1940.
A decline in immigration (1 in 4 babies were born to Hispanics in 2009), the recession, an increase in abortions, sexual education and abstinence programs, and an increased use of contraceptives are all believed to have played a role in the low teen birth rate.
Despite the lower 2009 U.S. teen birth rate, 16 other developed nations have a lower teen birth rate, according to a 2007 comparison by the United Nations.
A grand total (including teens and all new mothers) of about 4.1 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2009. That’s nearly a 3 percent decline from 2008, and the second consecutive annual drop in births, which had increased every year since 2000. The numbers for the first six months of 2010 indicated another year of decline in total U.S. births.