Tri-City Teenage Pregnancy
TRI-CITIES, Wash. - The Benton Franklin County Health Department reported that teenage pregnancy rates are very high in Franklin County, ranked third in the state in 2005.
Health Officials from around the Tri-Cities said there are many factors that surround teenage pregnancy. The Health Department said cultural differences in our Tri-City population are a big factor.
Some teens said the do not know where to get birth control while others said they do not know how to use it properly, but whatever the reason teenage pregnancy costs American tax payers billions of dollars every year.
Teen mother Alejandra Vargas said, "It is really hard. You see all your friends and they are going to the prom, they are going to the movies and they are going over here. I can't make plans because I don't know if I'll have a baby sitter."
16 year-old Samantha Gordon is expecting her baby in March. She said, "I didn't think I could get pregnant that's the last thing I thought."
Most of the teen mothers said their parents never talked to them about sex.
17 year-old Jassive Alvarado has a two year-old son. She said, "My parents never talked to me about sex and I think that's the mistake my mom and my dad made for me."
A teen that did not want to be identified said, "My parents never did and there are many parents that don't teach their sons or daughters about protection because they think its not the time or they're embarrassed but that's a big mistake."
There are places in the Tri-Cities where teenagers can get condoms and birth control without their parents consent. Planned Parenthood and the Health Department provide help and information.
Many of the teens said they did not use protection because they did not know how to obtain it or how to use it properly while others said they did not think they would get pregnant.
Vargas said, "Condoms are so you don't get pregnant, but I never knew how to put it on or what it looks like or how you use it."
Tri-City public schools teach abstinence-based programs. Health instructors teach students that they should not have sex outside of marriage, but also discuss sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, and mention methods of protection.
Benton Franklin County Public Nurse Marjorie Lindholm works with many Tri-City teenage parents. She said, "Abstinence based programs are good, but we find that we have pregnant women. That isn't a solution for everyone."
Alvarado said, "They have classes but they don't show the condoms. They don't show nothing. They just tell you but they don't show anything."
Another teen mother said, "I just learned about sex ed last semester but it was too late for me."
Vargas said, "I wasn't educated about birth control until I was pregnant."
Lindholm said, "If we don't teach them at school. If we don't teach them at home the TV will teach them about everything."
Health Department Officials and many teenagers said there is no simple solution to the teenage pregnancy problem but think that more can be done both at home and in the schools.