The words “sex” and “teen” are two things most parents never want to hear together, but the reality is, teens are sexually active.
The proof lies in the statistics: 84.9 out of 1,000 teenagers in Gordon County gave birth in 2008 (latest data available), according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (NCPTUP).
The number of teens who are participating in sexual activities is even higher, said Roberta Charbonneau, director of Gordon County Family Connections.
“We know number of births, but we don’t know the number of sexually active; that’s hard to calculate,” she said. “The number would obviously be higher.”
Charbonneau is part of Gordon County’s Teen Health Task Force, which includes many local non-profit leaders, as well as school social workers. The group focuses on promoting self-confidence while educating children and teens about sex and health.
“Just talking about teen pregnancy isn’t going to fix it,” Charbonneau said. “The committee is targeting and focusing on all the issues such as: teen health, self-confidence and leadership and communication skills.”
Other local resources help educate parents and teens. The Family Resource Center, United Way, Gordon Health Department, Latinos Education and Justice Organization (LEJO), Boys & Girls Club and Gordon County schools offer education and learning materials about teen health. The Child Development Center at Gordon Central High School also offers daycare services to teen parents who wish to continue their education.
Young fathers in the county also have a place to go to learn more about fatherhood.
The Family Resource Center in Calhoun offers a Nurturing Fathers at the Voluntary Action Center every Tuesday, 6 to 8 p.m. to interested teen fathers. The class offers parent training to fathers and spreads awareness to participants about the vital part they play in their children’s lives.
Charbonneau said the hardest part of preventing teen pregnancy is that there is no one solution to the problem.
“I think as many youth as there are, there are that many reasons,” she said.
Many teenagers in Georgia become parents in their early or mid-teens, some 8,000 of them were under age 16 in 2005 (latest data available), according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (NCTPTUP), www.nationalcampaign.org.
Also in that same year, close to 1 million American teenagers became pregnant, with more than 25,000 of them from Georgia and 154 reported from Gordon County alone, according to Georgia Family Connections.
If the present trends continue, researchers from NCPTUP estimate around 40 percent of today’s 14-year-old girls will become pregnant at least once before they turn 20 years old.
The number of local teen pregnancies has ebbed and flowed in recent years.
Although teen births in Gordon County have declined from 2005 (154) to 2010 (146), the 2010 number is an increase from 2009’s 136 teen births, according to a report by Georgia Family Connections
Family Connection seeks to decrease these numbers, no matter the fluctuation; Charbonneau advises parents to talk with their children as soon as possible.
“It’s an 18-year ongoing conversation,” she said, “ and that’s really the theme of the Teen Health Task Force.”
Those interested in more information about the Gordon County Teen Health Task Force can contact Roberta Charbonneau at (706) 602-5139.