BARTON COUNTY — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has released the 2011 statistics for teen pregnancy in Kansas, and, Barton County, unlike the remainder of the state and nation is showing an upward trend.
There were a total of 54 teen pregnancies in Barton County with one still birth and four abortions for 2011. In 2010, there were 51 teen pregnancies.
The rate per 1,000 is 28.8 for 2011, up from 26.8 in 2010. For the state of Kansas, the average rate per 1,000 was 20.9.
Barton County now ranks 13th in the state in the rate per 1,000 teens, ages 10-19.
“Nationally we’re seeing a decrease (in teen pregnancy),” said Lily Akings, director of the Barton County Health Department. “If we can duplicate this in Barton County, it would be wonderful.
“We need to realize that Barton is not following the trend,” she said. “We need the help of adults in community be involved in teen lives.”
“By 2020, the KDHE wants (the state average) to be down another 10 percent,” Akings continued.
The Centers for Disease Control attributes the nationwide decrease to less sexual activity among the adolescent population and use of contraceptives.
“At a certain age, hormones take over and kids are at a risk for not knowing how to deal with these feelings,” Akings said. Adults in their lives need to help, she added.
Akings said that in the BCHD home visits, support staff see grandparents picking up the responsibility for raising infants of teen mothers. She added that the Hispanic families are very good about teaching their youth about how to take care of an infant, but that doesn’t justify a teen pregnancy.
The rates for teen pregnancy in Kansas are highest among the densely settled rural areas with a rate per 1,000 of 26. The lowest rates in Kansas are among the frontier at 17.1 per thousand. For urban areas, the rate per 1,000 is 20.7.
Drinking and drugs
One risk area according to thenationalcampaign.org is the use of alcohol and drugs, which ranks high in Barton County according to the Communities that Care data as a problem area. In a survey of teens, say they do not use birth control when they are drinking or using drugs, according to the National Campagin. The website also says that three in ten girls will have a pregnancy before age 20, which is the highest rate in the industrialized world.
Another fallacy mentioned at the nationalcampaign. org is that many youth believe they are infertile. While the data show 8 percent of women ages 15-29 have reduced fertility, 59 percent of women in this age group think they have reduced fertility, and 47 percent of men say it is at least slightly likely they are infertile.
The cost of teen pregnancy includes everyone. According to the Center for Disease Control, teen pregnancy accounts for 11 billion dollars per year in increased cost to taxpayers through increased health care and foster care, increased incarceration rates among children of teen parents, and lost tax revenues because of lower education attainment and income among teen mothers.
For more information, contact the Barton County Health Department.
Reducing the risk
Evidence-based programs from the Centers for Disease Control for reducing teen pregnancy:
•Knowledge of sexual issues, HIV, STDs and pregnancy, including methods of prevention.
•Perception of HIV risk.
•Personal values about sex and abstinence.
•Attitudes about condoms.
•Perception of peer norms and behavior about sex.
•Consider individual ability to refuse sex and use condoms.
•Intent to abstain from sex or limit numbers of partners.
•Communications with parents or other adults about sex, condoms and contraception.
•Individual ability to avoid HIV/STD risk and risk behaviors.
•Avoidance of places and situations that might lead to sex.
•Intent to use a condom.