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Governor, State Aim to Lower Mississippi’s High Teen Pregnancy Rate

By Daniel Cherry | Published 07 Dec 2012 01:10pm | comments
Mississippi has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation..a problem that costs the state more than 150 million dollars each year. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, a push by the state is encouraging Mississippi teens to make healthy decisions.
 
Mississippi's pregnancy rate for teens ages 15 to 19 is 60 percent more than the national average. At Governor Phil Bryant's first Teen Pregnancy Prevention Summit in Jackson Thursday evening, hundreds of teens came to get information about preventing pregnancy...by waiting until marriage.
 
"It's like a good choice. There's two roads you can take, this road or you can take the right road, and we choose the right road."
 
That's Kyley Nunnery, a junior at Murrah High School in Jackson. She's in a program promoting abstinence only. She believes teaching students to abstain is the best method although similar campaigns in the past haven't been successful.
 
"I mean, I think that's because more adults have been trying to promote it  rather than teenagers. So I think with more teenagers doing it then it will be a bigger impact."
 
But others like Pat Washington, a mother who came to the summit with her daughter, say Mississippi teens need more information about preventing pregnancy. 
 
"I know the goal is abstinence but I mean you have to be realistic in this society that, you know, there's a good chance that they won't be. "
 
State law now requires school districts to teach some form of sex education, but schools can choose between abstinence only and abstinence plus. Ashley Sifuentes, a senior at Neshoba Central High School had a son at age 15. Now she believes other teens could avoid pregnancy by teaching more than abstinence only.
 
"You can't stop everybody from just abstinence, and if they don't know about like antibiotics canceling out your birth control, they need to be more educated in birth control and other contraceptives as well."
 
Governor Phil Bryant says his goal is to decrease the state's teen pregnancy rate 15 percent by 2017. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.

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