OCEANSIDE — May is National Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Month, named by the Washington D.C. headquarters. This year, there will be an estimated 700,000 teen girls nationwide who become pregnant, but efforts are ongoing locally to lower that number.
The Oceanside Boys & Girls Club has had a Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Committee addressing these important issues for nearly 10 years. The club offers a variety of assistance to the community and has found that teens often say the one thing that could have made a difference was … “If my family had talked to me.”
For some families, the discussion is not an easy one, but there is help at local clinics with advice and booklets or at the local library. There are two health care facilities in North County — North County Health Services (nchs-health.org) and Vista Community Clinic (vistacommunityclinic.org/) — both with several office locations where information and help can be found.
Jodi Diamond, CEO of the Oceanside Boys & Girls Club, notes that the boys and girls who are actively engaged in after school programs and programs at places such as the Boys & Girls Club or other youth development programs throughout North County, have a much higher chance of graduating from high school and for the girls not becoming a teen parent.
Teenage pregnancy impacts everyone but perhaps, most of all, the baby born to a teen mother. This baby is at a higher risk of low birth weight, higher risk of infant mortality, is likely to grow up in a single-parent home and often in poverty, becoming a teen parent themselves, often ending up in Foster Care.
According to the Boys & Girls Club release, taxpayers pay a huge cost in California, more than $3 billion annually, even thought teen pregnancy and health is addressed in public school classes. Any youngster 12 years of age or older can find help at several local health organizations from advice on abstaining, birth control, screening and information about sexually transmitted disease.
Sexually transmitted diseases are also a growing concern that impacts both boys and girls. Often there are no symptoms so teens do not seek assistance with screening or testing. Some diseases are easily detected through a urine test, but if left untreated can lead to sterilization for both sexes. According to the Center for Disease Control, there has been an increase in gonorrhea mainly among girls age 18 to 25. The number of chlamydia cases is the highest of any disease ever reported, Syphilis rates are reportedly on the increase, as well, an STD that the U.S. government had thought had been abolished.
Honoring teen pregnancy prevention month, be aware, be pro active. It could make a difference.