May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month and Manatee Children's Services' TRUTH program, a member of the Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee, is working to help raise awareness, locally, of the issue.
The Healthy Teens Coalition (HTC) is dedicated to reducing risky behaviors by providing teens with knowledge and skills to make informed choices about their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Manatee Children's Services' TRUTH program has been dedicated to preventing teen pregnancy through family advocacy and education since 2011.
Nationwide, teen pregnancy is highest among teens who do not use contraceptives, live in lower socio-economic areas, are members of single-parent households, have limited academic success, and/or are gang-affiliated.
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TRUTH advocates work to promote positive youth development and provide educational sessions among these particular demographics.
Manatee County currently ranks 32nd out of 67 for teen pregnancy. Although this is a significant improvement from 11th when intensive Manatee County efforts began several years ago, Manatee County has held a five-year trend of higher rates for first-time and repeat pregnancies to teens than the state as a whole.
Research shows that children born to teen parents are more likely to be born at a low birth weight, face health problems and developmental delays, and are twice as likely to enter foster care.
Children of teen parents are more likely to drop out of school and experience homelessness. The cycle of poverty and repeat teen births cost Manatee County taxpayers over $11.1 million annually.
As a community, we must make every effort to address the risk factors our teens are facing. We must work to ensure Manatee's youth have access to the tools, education, and information to help them recognize their value and potential, identify life goals, and ultimately make healthy, informed decisions that will lead to a positive future.