Teen pregnancy high in Southwest Kansas

KDHE Pregnancy rates by county. Click to enlarge.
KDHE Pregnancy rates by county. Click to enlarge.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas– Seward County has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the entire state, with 10% of girls becoming pregnant.  In Finney County it’s about 8%.  Those numbers are according to the KDHE’s latest statistics.

So why is it so high, double the state average?  Advocates say there is a large correlation between poverty, parent involvement and teen pregnancy.

“The parents are not there to tell them one way or another,” said Executive Director of ABC Pregnancy Care Center Dawn Thiel.  “Another thing is a lot of the parents don’t know how to talk to them.”

To help curb the issue groups in the area reach out to teens through family education.

“Talk to them about the consequence of once that child is born, who takes care of that child?  The cost of raising children, and not being able to be a kid anymore once you’re a parent,”  said Verna Weber, the Executive Director of the Finney County Community Health Coalition.

The Department of Children and Families is working on a new initiative that focuses on reading as a way to help.

“A lot of studies show that if children can read they’re less likely to get pregnant,” said Kathe Decker, Deputy Secretary at DCF.  “We’re trying to address some of those social issues that are the underlying issues of why sometimes that happens.”

As for day to day guidance, schools and the majority of community programs promote abstinence.

“There is only one 100% effective way of not getting pregnant, and that’s not having sex,” Thiel said.

There are also clinics in the area that offer birth control with a parent’s permission.

ABC Pregnancy Care Center offer free services.  

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