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Teen pregnancy problems outlined

May 08, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Nearly one out of 10 women ages 18 and 19 in Washington County are having babies, Health Officer William Christoffel said Tuesday.

"It doesn't speak well for the county. It doesn't speak well for its future," he said.

Christoffel, using statistics from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, outlined the county's teen pregnancy situation for a coalition of local health professionals.

Christoffel told the 2010 Coalition that he wants to get the Washington County Board of Education involved in the community's efforts to combat the problem.

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"I think we need to start addressing the self-esteem. What is her expectation for life? Where does she think she's going to go?" he said.

In a recent survey of teen parents, 85 percent responded that nothing would have stopped the pregnancy, said John Budesky, executive director of the Community Partnership for Children and Families.

"They wanted to get pregnant," he said.

About 85 percent of the 18- and 19-year-olds who gave birth in 2000 were not married and nearly all of the new mothers between the ages of 14 to 17 were not married.

In the city of Hagerstown, many of the teen pregnancies have been concentrated in the West End, said Christoffel, who showed a chart that mapped births to young women ages 14 through 17 from 1995 to 2000.

Various community programs have done a good job of keeping teenagers busy from the hours of 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., when they commonly have lacked supervision.

But Christoffel said other times of day are just as critical.

A 1999 Purdue University study showed that about 42 percent of teenagers had sex between midnight and noon.

Parents need to be involved - discussing family planning and the consequences of premarital sex, he said.

"We can't put our heads in the ground," Christoffel said. "We can't solve it by ourselves, but with people in the community collectively, we can reduce it."

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