Teen pregnancy dropping in SC -- for now - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Teen pregnancy dropping in SC -- for now

By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

STATEWIDE (WIS) - New statistics show teen birth rates in South Carolina have dropped. While this may seem like good news, experts say the accomplishment should be approached with caution.

The numbers are down, but with looming cuts to programs preventing teen pregnancy, there is a fear that the number may go back up and fast.

After an increase in teen birth rates from 2005 to 2007, the numbers have gone down. In 2009, the 15- to 19-year-old teen birth rate in South Carolina decreased by 7.5 percent.

"If we go back over the last decade, our teen pregnancy rates in South Carolina have decreased by more than 25 percent," said Forrest Alton with the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. "This is great news."

Alton says there is still a long way to go despite the decrease. "A lot of the programs that are responsible for continuing this decline are at risk of being greatly reduced or even being eliminated," he said.

Alton's group works to help teens prevent pregnancy through education, technical assistance, advocacy, public awareness and research. They have planned 65 events in 17 days to spread the word.

"Making sure that we're celebrating the successes that are happening a the local level," said Alton. "Also, making sure that schools, faith communities, parent groups, civic groups and community groups understand that they all have a role to play in preventing teen pregnancy)

Alton said parents need to start talking to their teens. "I don't think anyone wants to delegate sex education of our young people to Snooki and Usher," he said. "We want to make sure that we're delivering those messages ourselves."

Talking to your teens is not always an easy thing to do. You may want to sign them up for the 2011 Palmetto Health Teen Summit. It's from 8 to 3 on June 10 at Dreher High School. The free event gives teens an opportunity to discuss many topics including sex and pregnancy.

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