Talking Teen Pregnancy

Though this may be a subject not all of our young SheHeroes readers are old enough to discuss yet, it still seems worthy of mentioning for moms of teenagers and soon to be teenagers.

Some of you may have already heard about Frayser High school in Memphis, TN. What makes this high school so interesting? Well 90 girls at Frayser High are either pregnant or have given birth since the beginning of the school year. 90 girls. That’s 20% of the schools population, pregnant or new moms.

What makes this pregnancy epidemic even more odd is the fact that in the United States teenage pregnancy is down. The amount of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 has dropped to 39.1 births per 1,000 girls in 2009. A 6 % drop from 2008 . In fact it’s the lowest it’s been in 70 years since the government started keeping track. So if the rest of the nation is seeing a decrease in teenage pregnancy, why is this high school seeing almost a quarter of it’s student body pregnant in this school year?

One theory is that Frayser is a Title 1 school. This means almost every student qualifies for free meals, meaning it’s a high poverty area. But really, how many poverty stricken schools are there in every state that hasn’t seen 90 pregnant girls this year?

But in this writers opinion an even more crucial issue is that it seems these teens aren’t being educated about sex and aren’t being provided with the tools they need to protect themselves. Not just about pregnancy, but with sexually transmitted diseases as well. Obviously the kids a Frayser high aren’t using protection, which indicates that there could more than just pregnancy going around. Which could be even scarier.

The school is putting in place in school and after school programs to help deal with what they are calling a crisis. Our friends at Girls Inc. in Memphis have even stepped in and are launching a new program, “No Baby.”

President and C.E.O. of Girls Inc. Deborah Hester Harrison explained the program. "The whole point of that is to teach them to say no. That's the reason this is "No Baby." No. We're not going to have babies. No, we're not going to have sex. Or at least we're going to be protected if we're going to do something. So that's really our purpose, is to teach these girls how to say no. They don't know how."

While this may be a sensitive subject for many parents, the story of Frayser High is a prime example of why having an open discussion about teen sex is crucial. If you feel your daughter is old enough, share the shocking story of the girls at Frayser High with your teen and see what she thinks. Find out why she thinks these girls are getting pregnant at such a high number and what she thinks the community could be doing to help curb the epidemic.

Almost as important as talking about sex with your teen to help prevent teen pregnancy is having strong solid role models for young women to look up to, not only in their community but in the media and on television. Shows such as 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom which both air on MTV, a network who's core audience are teenagers, a big part of the problem in glorifying teen pregnancy.

Maybe if MTV instead aired programs that showcased young women making positive choices, such as the girls and women we like to showcase here at SheHeroes we'd being seeing epidemics of girls winning science fairs versus girls becoming pregnant.

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