86 Teen Pregnancies in Memphis High School
Teen pregnancy has been an American hot topic for decades and more recently has become prime time programming on our T.V. screens. Popular shows such as MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” spark questions about the implications of glamorizing teen pregnancies. While rates for teen pregnancy in the United States have been on a steady decrease since the 1980’s, a concentration of teen mothers in Memphis, Tennessee proves the battle isn’t over.
A disturbing trend at Frayser High School in Memphis is motivating an emergency campaign. Of the 978 students attending Frayser, 86 girls are currently pregnant or had a baby within the last year. The staggering statistic leaves 18 percent of the student body pregnant, or a new mother. Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization, is stepping in to launch the fight against skyrocketing pregnancy rates at Frayser High.
Memphis maintains an average teen pregnancy rate between 15-20 percent, but at Frayser, the rate hovers around 26 percent. A handful of other zip codes in Tennessee hold rates above 25 percent. So, why Memphis? That is the question community activists seek to answer and address. Girls Inc. will be joined in the fight by a local hospital that plans to specifically work with boys about teen pregnancy prevention.
Deborah Harrison, with Girls Inc., announced the campaign titled “No Baby!” at a recent school board meeting in Memphis. The organization will provide resources, birth control and education to young woman about teen pregnancy and tools to navigate the pressures of having sex. Support and encouragement to “say no” will be a focus of the campaign.
Memphis City Schools also has a plan to tackle the pregnancy epidemic. Funding from a grant will allow for creating pregnancy prevention programs in schools, hiring in-school nurse practitioners, hiring additional social workers and providing a discount baby store for mothers to buy discounted items.
Teen pregnancy presents harmful implications for both mother and baby. Teen mothers are less likely to graduate from school, and more likely to remain single mothers. Teen mothers are also less likely to receive pre-natal care which increases health and developmental risks for the baby.