It’s time for more than just words

Published 6:01 pm Monday, September 7, 2009

When it comes to the ongoing problem of teenage pregnancy in Suffolk, enough is enough.

During the past week, the Suffolk News-Herald has worked to fully explain and detail the problem that teenage pregnancy has become in our community, and one thing has become increasingly clear – more needs to be done in every area to help curb this problem.

In each article, it has become apparent one of the core problems is apathy to the situation by those in our city, schools and even social service groups. It has become a problem that many have just accepted, rather than facing the problem head on.

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This entire discussion began with the story we shared of two teenage sisters celebrating the birth of sons just three hours apart. The outrage we heard from readers about the story showed that there was some passion about this problem, but what we have found is that much of that passion is lip service.

It is silly to simply say that teaching abstinence to teenagers will deter them from having sex. It is silly to assume that providing access to birth control will increase the number of those choosing to use it during sex.

From parent counseling to churches, from the classroom to the living room, this problem must be discussed at every level at every opportunity to break the trend that seems to be developing in our community.

We have heard stories of teenagers — who themselves were born to teenage mothers — giving birth at a young age. And, yes, we have reported the racial and economic breakdowns of those having babies as teenagers.

But if anyone believes this is a problem limited to just one racial group or to those who are poor, then they are the ones who need to wake up and understand this is affecting every segment of our community at every economic level.

Now is the time for our elected leaders – our city leaders – to invest in this effort. Rather than saying it is something that needs our attention, now is the time to get out of the chair and do something about it. Now is the time to take action and lead.

An associate professor of childcare development at Paul D. Camp Community College, Martha Kello, may have summed up the situation the best of those interviewed in our series.

“My concern and my attention to this goes to the fact that it [teenage pregnancy] is something, unfortunately, that often happens from one generation to the next,” she said. “That means that if we want to stop it, we need to keep that from happening to the next generation.”

Now is the time to do something, and the need to so has never been greater.