Group has plan to curb teen pregnancy in Holmes Co. | News
JACKSON, MS (WLBT)- A group of state lawmakers, a judge, and other concerned Holmes County residents have a pilot program they believe will curb teen pregnancy in their community.
"We can't just continue to drift away basic principles and morals that will in the end lead us to destruction," says Senator David Jordan (D) Dist. 24.
The residents presented the program, Holmes County Taking a Stand Against Teen Pregnancy, to Governor Phil Bryant on Friday afternoon.
The program finds at risk teens, teaches them abstinence and their families moral empowerment.
"You have to know that it's wrong and it's not the best thing for you to do, and you have to have the power to do that. And, that power comes from on high, and we intend to introduce our young people and the family to that power source," explains 11th Judicial District Chancery Court Judge Janace Harvey Goree.
Jordan says teen pregnancy has reached epidemic proportions in Holmes county.
He told a story of a great-grandmother who is only 45 years-old.
In 2009, Holmes County had nearly double the nation-wide average number of teen birth rates at 76.4 percent.
"In 2010, in one of our middle schools, we had sixth through eighth grade; we had ten children that were pregnant and the school body consists of just a little over 200 students," recalls Goree.
She also stated that in 2011 83% of the children born in Holmes County were born to unwed mothers.
Jordan and others say there is a culture of acceptance, passed down from generation to generation, that leads to teen pregnancy.
Teen pregnancies are also costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.
If this abstinence program takes off, it could impact Mississippi's budget and create opportunities for teens.
"We're gonna see cuts in a lot of other state budgets as far as resources the state pays out. And, not only the state budget but as well as in these individual people's lives," says Rep. Bryant Clark (D) Dist. 47.
"It really cuts them off from great opportunities that they need. So as a result, in early life they have nothing to look forward to because they have burdens that they don't need at the age that they got them," says Jordan.
A spokesman for Governor Bryant says the first term Republican looks forward to working with the Holmes County group to help reduce teen pregnancies in Mississippi.
Bryant is expected to go to Holmes County for another round of discussions about the proposal.
Jordan and Bryant say if the pilot program is a success and needs legislative action, they will introduce a bill in the legislature next session.
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