By Kristin Bien (email@example.com)
11:28 AM EST, December 3, 2012
BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. – Teenage pregnancy rates in Berrien County are some of the highest in Michigan.
And the county has the highest pregnancy rate for black teenagers in the state.
That’s according to the Berrien County Health Department.
WSBT spoke with a local health official and a mother who had a child in her teens.
Melissa Hartley will tell you that being a mom is hard enough. She says being a teen mom is even more difficult.
“I’m not going to let it happen to my kids,” Hartley said. “I am going to educate them.”
The mother of four got pregnant with her first child at 17 while she was still in high school. That is because she didn’t always use protection.
“We just never talked about sex education in our house.”
That is one of the reasons why Rick Johansen from the Berrien County Health Department says a lot of teens get pregnant.
“It is tough to be a teen, because teens are bombarded by sex,” said Johansen.
In Berrien County, the number of pregnant teens is high, especially for black teenagers. The most recent numbers from 2010 show Berrien County has the highest rate of pregnancies among black teens in all of Michigan. However, the number is very comparable to other counties with similar demographics, so to say it is higher is a little bit of a misconception, because it is so similar, it is about the same.
Those demographics include things like less education, higher rates of poverty and more racial diversity. For Hartley though, it doesn’t matter where you live.
“I think if I had sex education and if my mom talked to me, ‘cause she was a single mom, about sex ed, I wouldn’t have had a baby at a young age. I mean, I am glad my children are here, but I wish I would have waited,” Hartley noted.
Johansen also recommends parents talk to their teenagers about sex and pregnancy.
There are programs offered in the county to help curb the teen pregnancy rate and to help young girls if they become pregnant, but those programs are limited because of a lack of funding.
(2010 is the most recent data available)
Teens, ages 15 to 19 had a pregnancy rate of 48.2 per 1,000 in 2010.
Black teens, ages 15 to 19 had a pregnancy rate of 115.8 per 1,000 in 2010.
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