Mississippi and Teen Pregnancy

By: Jon Kalahar Email
By: Jon Kalahar Email

Mississippi has one of the highest percentages of babies born to teen mothers in the nation. It affects not only that teen but the newborn child's life as he or she grows up. That's why the Mississippi Department of Human Services brought hundreds of teenagers to the Capitol in Jackson.

High school students from across the state held white balloons Wednesday as a promise to abstain from sex until they are married. State officials say the decision goes a long way to shaping a teen's future.

"I have goals in my life. I've got places I want to be," said DHS deputy director Richard Berry. "This is not where I want to be in my life. I want to be going to college. I want to be making something of myself."

Unfortunately, the statistics on teen birth rate are still staggering. From the latest numbers, of the more than 7,500 births to teen mothers, 1,601 gave birth to at least their second child and 555 of the teens were fifteen years old or younger, with nine 12-year-olds giving birth.

But a rally in Jackson wasn't just about numbers. It was about teens encouraging teens to just say 'no'.

Akeela Heron and Elizabeth Holloman both choose to abstain from sex until marriage.

"I have been asked, why wait,? Why is waiting important? How do you know for sure it's best? Well, how can anyone convince me that it's not?" said Heron, a senior at Tylertown High School.

"It's the only thing I have complete control over that nobody else does, nobody else has seen, nobody else knows about," said Holloman, Miss Mississippi Teen USA. "It's the only thing, and if you think about it, do you really want to share with the world the only thing that belongs to you?"

The Mississippi Department of Human Services says abstinence is the only birth control that is 100 percent effective. And that's the only message teens need to hear.

"When you start giving them different messages and say, well maybe if you do this or you do that, all it does is confuse the issue and somehow or another they just makeup their minds what's best for them," said Cheryl Sparkman of the Division of Economic Assistance.

And that decision could affect the rest of their lives. DHS wants to continue the teens talking to teen format. It will host a "Teens Speaking Up" Summit May 17 at the Mississippi Coliseum. They will not only be talking about abstinence, but the pressures teens face every day.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Kristen Location: Biloxi on Nov 10, 2011 at 09:48 AM
    The ladies, who have had teen pregnancies, sound as you have achieved natural goals as young mothers. The real issue is teaching the foundation of family and the importance of marriage. The unity of a family structure is the foundation to sex. The teenage epidemic is only an epidemic because of our American culture. It is normal and health to have children and the start of menarche. The real solution is teaching stablity in the family structure.
  • by kayla Location: ny on Dec 8, 2010 at 10:49 PM
    First of all Nikki, "it doesnt affect nothing." great english. Your truly helping get the point across that teen mom's are very smart. But anyways, get birth control. I think it's disgusting i have to pay tax dollars for someone who cant get on birth control or condoms. two kids before you even graduated..pathetic honestly.
  • by nikki Location: gautier ms on Oct 28, 2009 at 06:19 AM
    im 17 years old. i got pregnant at 16. i got my ged and i am now a human service major at mgccc. whats the big deal.... so what. its just an age! it doesn't affect nothing. i take care of my child on my own. i buy her clothes toys food diapers and wipes. my sister is a teen mom and alot of my friends have babies and we are all doing fine!!! we dont need snobby people telling us what do to and how to do it!! and guess what? im not on welfare.. :) as far as im concerned its none of nobody's business how other people live their life
  • by Amber Location: Tupelo Mississippi on Sep 23, 2009 at 10:17 AM
    i think the teenage pregnacy need to stop now!!!!! tHESES YOUNG GIRLS ARE NOT READY THEY DONT HAVE WHAT IS TAKES TO BE A MOTHER, THEY DONT KNO RESPONSIBILITES OR REQUIREMENTS TO BE ONE!!!!_!!!
  • by Tiffany Location: Biloxi on Feb 18, 2009 at 05:25 PM
    I had my daughter at 15 and graduated pregnant with my second daughter. Yes, I started very early. I got pregnant my first time and now have 3 kids all with the same man. I have 4 more mouths until I get my associates degree and have always had full custody of my kids. People achieve what they want; kids only hinder them if they let them. I have taken care of my kids on my own, other than foodstamps, but I am a tax payer too, so stop complaining!! And the reason why we have the highest rates of teen pregnancy is because we are the only state where abortions are illegal, and we are a very old fashioned, traditional, and SOUTHERN state. We believe in raising our children instead of aborting them. Most states have just as many teen pregnancies, but they have the resources to terminate them. Now we are supposed to feel badly for having our babies rather than killing them!! NOW HOW IS THAT FOR STATISTICS!!!!
  • by lesha Location: jackson on Jan 28, 2009 at 05:08 PM
    it can stop okay i am 14 and i dont have a baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • by Geneva Jenkins Location: Meridian on Jun 18, 2008 at 04:19 PM
    Thank you for reporting this story.Teen pregnancy is at epidemic proportion among black females 15-19. The state is a little late addressing the problem. The teen pregnancy data was not even collected by the state prior to the 2007-2008 school year. I see first-hand the tremendous problem of teen pregnancy,since I work in a high school.
  • by Tired Taxpayer Location: Meridian on May 8, 2008 at 07:38 AM
    If the government would stop paying for these babies then maybe they would stop getting pregnant. Once is a mistake, twice or more is not. Cut off the checks and maybe they will think twice about getting pregnant again and again.
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