Richmond County teens have high rates of sex, pregnancy, disease

Saturday, April 14, 2012 3:39 PM
Last updated Sunday, April 15, 2012 1:33 AM
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Instead of asking Augusta teenagers directly whether they were having sex, a group working to reduce teen pregnancy asked in a survey whether their friends were having sex. Nearly 65 percent responded that their friends between the ages of 13 and 15 were having sex, a “proxy” number for the number of teens actually having sex.

“That certainly was alarming to us,” said Dr. Donna Elliston, the project director for the Geor­gia Campaign for Adolescent Preg­nancy Prevention. “It is not only high, it is pretty accurate given the current rates for Richmond County where the teen pregnancy and teen birth rates are higher than the state of Georgia.”

Augusta also has an extraordinarily high rate of sexually transmitted disease in teens, the eighth-highest in the state and the highest among its major cities, according to an analysis of data by the The Augusta Chronicle.

GCAPP received a $7.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try to lower Richmond County’s teen pregnancy and teen births by 10 percent by 2015. The group and its 16 community partners are midway through the second year of the grant and are still training and helping implement programs, Elliston said.

They have their work cut out for them. Richmond County’s teen pregnancy rate in 2009 was 87.2 per 1,000 for those ages 15-19, compared with a state rate of 61 per 1,000. The rate is lower than it was in 2000 for the same age group, when it was 98.8 per 1,000 compared with a state rate of 81.3 per 1,000.

Richmond County has not made the same progress as other large areas – Fulton County’s teen pregnancy rate, for instance, dropped from 97.1 per 1,000 in 2000 to 56.9 per 1,000. Elliston said Fulton County is benefitting from more teen centers, more attention focused on the problem and greater education efforts.

PART OF THE Richmond County grant is to increase education efforts with “evidence-based” proven programs, some of which go beyond teaching just abstinence. At New Bethlehem Community Center, for instance, a program called Making Proud Choices teach­es sexual health and negotiating skills to deal with pressures to have sex or other situations, Executive Di­rector Millicent West said.

“We realize that a lot of times we tell the teens that they shouldn’t have sex but we don’t tell them what to do” when faced with a situation, she said.

The center is targeting 15- to 19-year-olds through area churches, and part of its challenge is that the curriculum teaches about safer sex, including contraceptive use, West said.

“Part of the reason they have sexually transmitted diseases as well as pregnancy is either no use of contraceptive or the incorrect use of contraceptive,” she said. “That is part of the wholistic approach that has to be discussed as well. It is very delicate and we have to be very careful how it is approached, but we want to stay true to the curriculum.”

While there has been some resistance from those who want abstinence-only sex education, the reception has been “very positive because they realize there is a problem,” West said. All she asks is that pastors and parents keep an open mind about the program.

“And that they will see that it doesn’t encourage sexual activity but in cases where the young people are actually engaged in sexual activity that they would be more responsible,” West said.

Evidence shows that go­ing through the curriculum helps convince students to delay sexual activity until much later, she said. Kids Restart, which deals with at-risk youths and children in foster care, is also implementing Making Proud Choices because it covers a wide range and emphasizes kids speaking up for themselves, Executive Director Daniela Whitaker said.

“It really makes them understand that they have a voice and their opinion matters,” she said. “You don’t have to just go with the crowd, that you’re allowed to have your own opinion, that it’s important to voice your opinion and stick to what you believe in.”

One major player not included in the GCAPP effort is the Richmond County Board of Education. Elliston said there are no current talks between her group and the school system.

“Although we may not be directly in the school system per se, we still are able to target those kids,’ she said.

More than 90 percent of parents and teens included in the group’s survey said there was a need for greater education not only about preventing teen pregnancy but also on HIV and sexually transmitted disease prevention, Elliston said.

IN A STUDY of teen sexual health in the South by Au­burn University, Georgia had the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea infections and double the rate of HIV/AIDS, said Bev Jones, the director of communications and business affairs for GCAPP.

And Richmond County is among the highest of Geor­gia counties, according to a Chronicle analysis.

In 2010, the sexually transmitted disease rate for ages 13-19 was 5,611.4 per 100,000, or nearly 6 out of 100 teens, The Chronicle found. It is more than double the Georgia rate for that age group overall at 2,251.8 per 100,000 and nearly nine times the overall STD rate for the state.

Part of what Kids Restart is trying to overcome is the mentality of teenagers that “they are invincible and all of these bad things that are out there are really not going to happen to me,” Whitaker said. “This is really making it real to them that this is something that is out there and you have to keep yourself safe.”

GCAPP HAS APPROACHED five clinical partners – including the health department, Planned Parenthood and Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics – about “promoting more teen-friendly clinics, as well as providing contraceptive services for sexually active teens,” Elliston said. Other organizations will be encouraged to refer teens to those services, she said.

“Certainly with those numbers it clearly illustrates to us that there is a lot of sexual activity that is going on amongst the young people and it is really important to help them protect themselves,” Elliston said.

If successful in Richmond County, the group hopes to create a model for other areas, said GCAPP President and CEO Vikki Millender-Morrow.

“That’s something that we are really looking forward to and think that it will make Richmond County shine as we see all of the progress,” she said.

Staff writer Sandy Hodson contributed to this report.

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raul
5316
Points
raul 04/14/12 - 03:47 pm
7
4
FWMA- Future Welfare Moms of

FWMA- Future Welfare Moms of Augusta

Abbynoll
282
Points
Abbynoll 04/14/12 - 03:47 pm
8
5
they think they are being

they think they are being responsible... after all, aren't they bringing another check into the home?

Maybe I shouldn't be so cynical but I'd like to see the demographics for all these teen moms. Used to be that was embarrassing, now it's all about getting a baby daddy, like their friends and mom's have.

Fools_and_sages
360
Points
Fools_and_sages 04/14/12 - 04:20 pm
14
8
Once again, ignorance about
Unpublished

Once again, ignorance about how welfare works raises its ugly head. When the federal government overhauled welfare in the 1990s under Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" plan, if you have one child and end up on welfare, you get a certain level of benefits. Those benefits no longer increase when another child is born and they have not since the 1990s. There is also a federal limit to the number of years that an individual can spend on full welfare and some states, like GA, have lowered the maximum number years well below what the federal government will allow. The only way a person can stay on welfare "forever" is if they are mentally ill or physically or mentally handicapped.

Why doesn't anybody comment on what the teen pregnancy issue is really about? It's really about a bunch of overly-religious people who think that simply telling kids not to have sex and backing it up with the concepts of sin and damnation will result in no teen sex. They don't seem to understand that telling a teen not to do something virtually guarantees they will do it! Abstinence only education does not work. States (or communities) that rely on "abstinence only" have much higher teen pregnancy and teen STD rates than those that teach contraception. Not surprisingly, those states (or communities) who rely on "abstinence only" also have higher levels of poverty as well as lower high school graduation rates, lower college attendance rates, higher crime rates, and higher underemployment rates. All of these phenomena are related. I bet all of you probably missed the news story last week that said the state of GA has a 67% high school graduation rate. A year or two ago, 67% of Richmond county schools failed to make AYP as well. Maybe if kids were taught how to avoid having kids, we could have a 77% or 87% graduation rate because people would be waiting until they are smart enough, mature enough, and economically stable enough to raise kids. Teens will have sex regardless of whether contraception is taught or not. In fact, this study proves teens have sex regardless of what they know about safe sex. Teaching contraception does not encourage sexual activity; instead, it allows young people to prevent becoming parents too early and it allows them to remain free of potentially life-threatening STDs. The system fails its charges by not teaching them what they need to know to avoid ruining their lives.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 04/14/12 - 04:28 pm
5
7
Why can't I give Fools and
Unpublished

Why can't I give Fools and Sages more than one thumbs up? He/she needs about a 100.

Abbynoll
282
Points
Abbynoll 04/14/12 - 04:40 pm
7
1
Having that child makes the

Having that child makes the mother an adult and she can claim her own benefits, whether she's living in the house or not. The system is manipulated like crazy. If the father doesn't pay up there's also AFDC... which is not subject to those limitations that were put on the other welfare programs (as far as I know). I totally agree that abstinence teaching doesn't and isn't going to work.

To think teen pregnancy is because of overly religious people is shallow minded and moronic. Trust me, these teens have come no where near any religious teachings not to mention morality. I'm not talking about the uneducated "oops" ones who "didn't think I could get pregnant the first time", I'm talking about the ones that are out there messing around with anything that twitches. These girls don't even KNOW who the father is a lot of times. They do know what they're doing, they just don't care. It's all a game... everybody else is doing it, why not? I don't know about y'all... but I had sex ed in the 6th grade. I knew what went where and what happened once it got there. We were also given a mini-sex ed/safety class every year in health or whatever science class we were in. Have they stopped doing that? We're wasting tax payer money yet again for something that will make NO difference. You can "teach" all you want, but it won't do any good without someone who's willing to learn.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 04/14/12 - 05:56 pm
0
0
What are the demographics in
Unpublished

What are the demographics in Richmond county?

wondersnevercease
9218
Points
wondersnevercease 04/15/12 - 01:45 pm
1
0
These same kids have been
Unpublished

These same kids have been told since kindergarten about having babies and how they should not... how std's are transmitted....and blah,,blah..blah....
guess what...they know this stuff backwards and forwards...they just do not care OR are just to ignorant to comprehend...OR they simply want to be pregnant....millions of dollars have gone into programs TRYING to get through to this demographic.....it ain't working.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 04/14/12 - 05:57 pm
0
0
Fools and sages, you are
Unpublished

Fools and sages, you are specifically talking about a "welfare check" Benefits DO go up on all the other freebees, medicaid, food stamps, housing, utilities etc... These posters are using the term "welfare" as all freebees. I'm pretty sure you know that. If these young moms have 1 kid and are living in public housing, never working a day in their life..... have 5 more kids... they get upgraded to a brand new place with enough room for all those kids. They still never work, get more food stamps and eat better than working people, get a nicer larger place to live, etc.. Rather than telling these people, use the FREE birth control provided or you get no help, they condone it by increasing benefits. Don't raise their benefits if they have kids while on public assistance, cut them off. These programs condone non working freeloaders, and freeloaders who minimally work to get their benefits. Why should an irresponsible idiot who has more kids when they already can't and won't support the ones they already have get one dime from responsible taxpayers who would would like more children but don't because they know they can not provide for them???? Same goes for these lame scammers on disability!! This is nothing more than a scam by lazy people, yet their reward is to live eat and get free medical care responsible working taxpayers can not afford. Sickening.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 04/14/12 - 06:01 pm
0
0
Abbyknoll, most of these
Unpublished

Abbyknoll, most of these women DO know the fathers, they refuse to tell so they can get benefits and not tick off their boyfriend by putting their name on the birth certificate making them liable for child support and/or so the dad can live off of those benfits with them!

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 04/14/12 - 06:04 pm
0
0
Doesn't surprise me one bit
Unpublished

Doesn't surprise me one bit palmetto thinks people should be allowed to be lazy freeloaders their whole life and contribute absolutely nothing more to society than more dependants for others to pay for. You don't need to give 100 likes, we already know your position.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 04/14/12 - 06:35 pm
4
0
Sex without love produces

Sex without love produces progeny who frequently lack paternal love and guidance as well as a sense of belonging. In search of such love, guidance and belonging, many products of loveless sex join family-surrogate gangs, engage in anti-social behavior, and
repeat their procreators' mistake.

Unfortunately, the popular media does an extraordinarily effective job of promoting the foolishness that is recreational sex. And we acquiesce in its promotion.

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 04/14/12 - 06:53 pm
3
0
Well at one point I would've

Well at one point I would've said its not the schools responsibility to teach this to children. It all starts at home, and should be taught by the parents, but how do you expect a 13 year old to educate a child when they don't even know how to take care of themselves. This is a vicious cycle that has been going on for decades. We will continue to support them and all their babies. This is not about getting a check this is the only lifestyle they know. The check is just a gift from the government for doing their part in continuing a program that's was designed to keep them from ever becoming successful in life. Why work when you can get something free right?

Fools_and_sages
360
Points
Fools_and_sages 04/14/12 - 07:17 pm
8
5
Actually, blaming religion is
Unpublished

Actually, blaming religion is right on because the people who decide what gets taught in the schools in states and communities who frown on teaching contraception tend to be church-goers who believe that "abstinence only" actually works and they believe teaching contraception encourages promiscuity and immorality. Since the community puts these people in power, religious attitudes and beliefs about sexual activity in the larger community directly impact the sex ed curriculum that local leaders approve for the local schools.

To answer your question about what is being taught in our local schools, I believe Richmond County is an "abstinence only" school system. According to a document on Board of Ed's website, sex ed in Richmond County schools appears to be all about self-respect, local community values, and abstinence. You can read it here: (http://www.rcboe.org/download.axd?file=acfe6367-74d9-49af-bf4f-a71e51492...). Richmond County kids can be exempted from the course if their parents don't want them to take it, but they have to pass the same exam as those who do. Columbia County has a similar curriculum, though their website is much more detailed.

The net result is that some young women and men enter adulthood with little to no idea how their bodies work, how babies are made, or how babies develop in the womb. Some have no idea that 50% of an individual's DNA comes from their mother and 50% comes from their father. Some early 20-something women I have met think they have no reason to be concerned if their cycles become irregular as long as they are not having sex because they don't know that irregularity can result from a variety of reproductive health problems as well as pregnancy.

School systems all over America and in the CSRA do a huge disservice to young people when they limit what is taught in the schools or they allow some students to opt out of what is really a science course that teaches them how to keep themselves healthy and make sure they don't have children until they are prepared to do so. If "local community values" are what shapes the sex ed curriculum, the only real source of that a value system promotes complete and total premarital sexual abstinence is religion.

I'm not saying religion is a bad thing. Believing in something larger than oneself provides a profound source of inspiration, support, and moral grounding. However, I am saying religion often proposes very idealistic values that are actually quite unrealistic and ineffective in practice for the masses, particularly when it comes to sex. You are correct that some teen parents have no religion. But an absence of belief isn't the problem. The problem is that they have no education about how to prevent pregnancy because local community religious values have denied them that knowledge.

Riverman1
86807
Points
Riverman1 04/14/12 - 07:28 pm
1
0
So you are saying people

So you are saying people elected to Boards of Education and hired as school administrators usually reflect the mores of the people. Imagine that.

rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 04/14/12 - 07:57 pm
1
0
When in my early 20's, there

When in my early 20's, there was a woman outside a store trying to raise money. She said it was to raise money to prevent teen pregnancy. So I asked her how much were they willing to pay each one not to have sex? "nuff said! She never answered, I never made a donation.

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 04/14/12 - 08:46 pm
4
1
The school system and

The school system and religion are not to blame. That's the easy way out. The values they learn come from home. You can push sex education on them for 1 hour a day for 5 days a week, but then they see the complete opposite going on for the other 161 hours in their homes and neighborhoods.

Just My Opinion
5850
Points
Just My Opinion 04/14/12 - 08:54 pm
2
0
I met a high school senior

I met a high school senior the other day who told me that her parents forced her out of their home to make room for a niece who had had an illegitimate child and no where to go. Their house was too small for all of them, she was told, and they asked her if there was someplace else for her to go!! Guess where she went? She moved in with her boyfriend! So, these upstanding intellects essentially pushed their OWN daughter out and into the bed of her boyfriend, in order to take in a girl who had already made a huge mistake?? Who wants to bet how long it takes their daughter to end up pregnant?? And before anyone starts to say that this daughter might be smart enough to use some sort of contraceptive?...NO, she doesn't. Yes, I asked her. I am not niave enough to think that all parents have to do is to educate their kids about safe-sex, at some point, nature will take over and kids will do what the want to do! And yes, in a perfect world, abstinence IS the best way around teenage pregnancy....but, sadly, this is not a perfect world.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 04/15/12 - 12:09 am
3
1
Abbyknoll, HighSociety, and

Abbyknoll, HighSociety, and Just My OP: you are correct!

12barblues
238
Points
12barblues 04/15/12 - 01:19 am
3
1
Kudos to new Bethlehem. We

Kudos to new Bethlehem. We need more organizations such as them and planned parenthood in our schools everyday raising awareness and passing out birth control. This is getting way out of hand. I'm in the schools regularly and see so many little girls walking around pregnant. They (and their kids) don't have much of a chance.

Abbynoll
282
Points
Abbynoll 04/15/12 - 08:31 am
3
0
I'm fairly new to this area

I'm fairly new to this area so I'm not sure how everything works but... can't they walk into any health department and get free condoms? I know you can in most places. Handing out birth control isn't going to help unless they stand over them and make sure they're using it. I don't disagree that this is a horrible situation and we need to do something... but I think this is a colossal waste of money. 1. parents are not only uninvolved, their actions set the example for these girls AND boys. (believe it or not, they're responsible too) 2. it's an acceptable thing to be a teen mom these days... even encouraged in some circles. The money would be better spent providing grants to mental health organizations for these poor children that are being brought into this world under these circumstances. And I could probably think of a dozen more things that would be more effective.

seenitB4
90642
Points
seenitB4 04/15/12 - 08:34 am
2
1
OK now.....I guess putting

OK now.....I guess putting that aspirin between the knees doesn't work...duh duh....I bet putting the bible between the knees won't work either....come out of the dark ages.....give these younguns some information they soo surely need.....
Nature WILL take over---they will get pregnant----& WE will have to pay for THEM.......stop preaching & start teaching about bc---all kinds...
sometimes I just can't believe what I read....................Georgia is the highest in out of wed babies.....well ..let me think .....duh duh......I think I see a purty cat in the bushes....GEEZ

seenitB4
90642
Points
seenitB4 04/15/12 - 08:36 am
0
0
HI sweet abby....my post

HI sweet abby....my post wasn't in any way about your post........
The parents can't help because they are clueless too.......

justthefacts
22680
Points
justthefacts 04/15/12 - 08:47 am
3
2
seenit, do you really think

seenit, do you really think this is an education issue? Many of these kids know exactly what they are doing. They are much more educated than you and I were. Or, me anyway, can't speak for everyone. My 16 yr old definately is more informed than I ever was.

seenitB4
90642
Points
seenitB4 04/15/12 - 08:56 am
3
2
JTF....I think fools & sages

JTF....I think fools & sages got it right.....

The net result is that some young women and men enter adulthood with little to no idea how their bodies work, how babies are made, or how babies develop in the womb. Some have no idea that 50% of an individual's DNA comes from their mother and 50% comes from their father. Some early 20-something women I have met think they have no reason to be concerned if their cycles become irregular as long as they are not having sex because they don't know that irregularity can result from a variety of reproductive health problems as well as pregnancy.

They need bc education but they need to respect their body......some feel hopeless & our daddie gov. provides for their output.......there are so many ways to trick the system....some make a career out of that....
anyway....it is plain as day IT AIN'T WORKING!

justthefacts
22680
Points
justthefacts 04/15/12 - 09:06 am
5
2
Nope, morality is the issue.

Nope, morality is the issue. It used to be you knew the girls who did. Now, you know the ones who don't. And because of peer pressure, the ones who don't are ridiculed.

raul
5316
Points
raul 04/15/12 - 09:32 am
5
0
The "coolness" factor to

The "coolness" factor to being a teenage mom will have to be eliminated. When I was growing up, teenage and out of wedlock pregnancy wasn't acceptable. Now, these young girls think that it's "cool" to have so and so's baby. Not understanding that the boy is not going to stay with them or provide them financial support. While education may be a factor, it isn't the total factor that is driving this issue.

dana.griffin
0
Points
dana.griffin 04/15/12 - 09:33 am
2
0
As a parent of 3 teenage

As a parent of 3 teenage boys, This type of data is invaluable. Talking about sex with yours kids is so difficult. Having this article on my kitchen table makes it easier to start up the conversation. I wish you had included the stats for Aiken county and south carolina. Would it be possible to add that information?

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 04/15/12 - 11:08 am
3
2
If you have more than one

If you have more than one kid, you can let someone else claim it. That's how they get over on the tax payers.

allhans
23998
Points
allhans 04/15/12 - 11:13 am
2
0
I hope parents took note of

I hope parents took note of "disease". Pills (free or otherwise) won't stop the spread of STD.
So let them have sex...that's the way it should be, you can't stop them...just give them some bcs (which they might or might not use). SHEESH-folks!
A mother told me yesterday (in a hospital waiting room) that her 13 year old has shots to prevent pregnancy. I asked if it prevented STDs but she advised me in no uncertain terms that her daughter DOES NOT have sex. She is just taking precautions.

Just My Opinion
5850
Points
Just My Opinion 04/15/12 - 01:34 pm
4
0
dana, just an honest question

dana, just an honest question for you...and for any other parents who feel the same way: Why do you feel discussing sex with your children is hard? Not that I am any better or smarter or bolder or whatever than you (PLEASE believe that), but I found that I realized that this conversation with my child is one of the absolute most important ones that I will EVER have with them, and that it is imperative that they learn from ME, and not their friends, about sex and it's consequences. It would be a total injustice to my child if I didn't speak with them honestly and maybe even graphically...just to get the point across. After that discussion and assurance that they understand, when they choose to engage in sex and when/if they become pregnant (or get some pregnant) is on them. Please don't be intimidated by your kids or ashamed/embarassed to discuss sex with your child. And don't wait until high school to do it!! Studies show that kids in middle school...and some as early as 5th grade...are doing it.

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