In 2012, the teen pregnancy rate for Barton County went down from 2011, according to the Kansas 2012 Annual Summary of Vital Statistics. There were 43 pregnancies down from 54 for 2011 in the 10-19 age group.
This is very good news.
Teen mothers are frequently ill-prepared for caring for infants. Some will turn the pregnancy into a success story, but often teens and the babies both end up in undesirable situations.
The economic cost is huge, not only for these teens but to society as a whole because many teens are not ready for nurturing, parental, or economic responsibilities.
While some schools in the area are doing much to prepare teens for these issues, others are not, and so this responsibility falls back on parents and grandparents, where it should start with anyway.
Research has shown that the human brain is not fully developed until the mid-twenties. Teens make choices and mistakes we adults wish they would not make.
It is our responsibility as mentors and protectors of teens to teach them how to make better choices to keep them safe from early pregnancy and life threatening diseases. Both girls and boys need an ongoing conversation about this issue, starting from when they begin to ask questions.
Each year there are new teenagers and parents of teens, so as a community, we have to be vigilant in continuing efforts to reduce teen pregnancy rates.
Karen La Pierre