Organization Looks to Stem Drop Out Rate in Teen MothersBy Lawayne Childrey | Published 18 Jul 2013 10:19pm |
The Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women is studying ways to stop an estimated 18,000 teenage mothers in Mississippi from dropping out of school each year. They are seeking the support of Mississippi lawmakers and others in their efforts.
About 20 women from around the state spent their lunch break in Jackson Thursday listening to State Senate Education Committee Chairman Gray Tollison of Oxford. Tollison told the group that increasing the state’s high school graduation rate and reducing the dropout rate remains a top priority for lawmakers. He says he is especially concerned with the high number of teen mothers dropping out.
"That's a particular group that didn't drop out of high school because of academics, it was another factor, in this case, becoming a mother at a young age and as I said, studies have shown those are ones that you can get back into school if you just provide some support to them and identify them and reach out to them and say 'hey, you can become a high school completer' and that will make a huge difference in Mississippi especially," says Tollison.
Gloria Williamson is the Chair of the Mississippi Commission on The Status of Women. She says part of the reason so many teen mothers are dropping out is because the state's court system does not place enough emphasis on the continued education of teen and unwed mothers.
"In other words, sometimes they don't even get child support, so they wind up living at home or taking care of their children full-time and dropping out and getting a job those kind of things so this is very interesting to me because if you've got 18,000 mothers out there with mothers that are uneducated, think how quick that adds up across your state," details Williamson.
Studies show last year more babies were born to teenage mothers in Mississippi than anywhere else in the country. Williamson says while the state has taken strides to reduce teenage pregnancy more needs to be done.
"It's too late for an unwed mother about teen pregnancy. So most likely what we'll have to do is go through the Department of Education or even DHS. But we need to advocate for them, when I say advocate, the Commission on the Status of Women needs to go to the legislature and say, 'Which one of you all wants to introduce this bill?' Because this is what we want to do for these women, so we will study this and we will get back with Gray Tollison promptly," says Williamson.
The commission was created in 2001 to improve the overall quality of life of all Mississippi women. .
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