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According to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, in Brunswick County in 2007, 183 women younger than 19 became pregnant. The youngest reported was a mere 12 years old. Across the state, more than 20,000 women younger than 19 got pregnant last year.
In the Brunswick County Health Department’s Community Assessment for 2007, the report indicated the county “continues to have an unusually high rate of teen pregnancy,” referring to 296 children born to mothers younger than 19 during a year-and-a-half period.
The teen pregnancy rate, according to the report, is highest for white, unmarried females between the ages of 15-18 who have less than 11 years of education. The second growing population is young, unwed Hispanic mothers.
With numbers such as this, it’s easy to see why programs that encourage abstinence and encourage self-esteem are so important to young people living in this community. One such program is Girls Incorporated.
Through this nonprofit organization, young women are inspired to be more self-confident while engaging in programs that teach sex education, assertiveness and moral values.
For the past four years Girls Inc. has offered its Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy Program to girls at Leland, Shallotte and South Brunswick middle schools.
In a twice-a-week after-school program, students are taught about abstinence and given tools that can help them deal with peer pressure. The program also explains the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.
To provide this valuable service to the community, Girls Inc. relies heavily on grant funding.
Organizers have recently announced their intent to apply for a grant renewal administered through the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives. If the grant is awarded, the money will be used to continue spreading the important message of Girls Inc.
Enhanced programs are also planned for the future including additional parent involvement, career awareness, mentoring, volunteers, cultural enrichment, community involvement, recreation, academic assistance and transportation.
Currently, there are about 50 young women participating in this valuable program, and luckily for them the services are provided free of charge.
Girls Inc. is a new but growing program in this community. It offers a valuable, real-life education that some young people may not be afforded in their homes.
Through programs such as this, we hope future statistics will report that Brunswick County is following a good trend—decreasing the number of pregnancies from teens in our community.