Committee presents teen mom statistics

March 14, 2001

Committee presents teen mom statistics

See also: Pregnancy poll results


Eleven percent of births at Washington County Hospital in 2000 were to mothers under the age of 20, according to information given to the Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday.


That and other statistics about teenage pregnancies were provided by members of the Interdepartmental Committee on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Parenting, a group of volunteers from across the county who are working to prevent teenage pregnancy.

Members of the committee said they were at the commissioners' meeting to make them aware of the severity of the situation, not to have them come up with a solution.


During 1999, 220 teenagers gave birth in Washington County, according to Health Department statistics. While official numbers were not available for 2000, a preliminary number was available from Washington County Hospital.

The hospital estimates that 187 girls aged 19 or younger gave birth at Washington County Hospital last year, said Maureen Grove, executive director of Girls Inc. and a member of the Interdepartmental Committee.

Three of those new mothers were 13 years old, Grove said.

Commissioners President Greg Snook said he was unaware of the severity of the problem.

Part of the problem is that teenagers are not being given complete information, Grove said.

There is nothing wrong with telling teenagers to abstain, but that doesn't always stop them from having sex, she said.

Simply asking teenagers to "just say no" isn't working, according to Grove.

"Ignorance does not guarantee innocence," Grove said. And learning about sex doesn't mean one will have sex, she said.

Parents are a child's earliest teachers but many parents won't talk to their children about sex or answer their questions, Grove said. When some do talk about it, they pass on myths and fears, she said.

Teen pregnancies are "the fallout due to the lack of knowledge," said Lee Brooks, community liaison of Maryland's Tomorrow Programs.

Commissioner John Schnebly asked what Washington County isn't doing that other counties are but nobody provided an answer.

Washington County Health Officer William Christoffel said after the meeting that his chief concern is those teenagers who have repeat pregnancies.

That situation has been targeted by the Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families, the agency's executive director, John Budesky, said. The organization's goal is to reduce by half the number of teenagers who have repeat pregnancies, Budesky said.

Community Partnership is seeking about $90,000 in grant funds to provide programs and education intended to reduce the number of teen pregnancies, he said.

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