Teen childbearing cost Gordon County taxpayers more than $3 million in 2008, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (NCPTUP).
An analysis from NCPTUP also showed at least $465 million being spent in Georgia in 2008 toward teen childbearing costs. Gordon County bore .079 percent of Georgia’s total at $3,673,500.
Teen pregnancy requires taxpayer funding in many areas outside of medical care.
A breakdown of Georgia taxpayers’ funds in relation to teen pregnancy included: $75 million for public health care; $89 million for child welfare; $74 million for increased rates of incarceration rates for individuals born to teen parents, and $133 million in lost tax revenue, according to NCPTUP.
The number of children born to teen mothers ages 15-19 in Georgia came to 17,221 in 2008; in Gordon County the number was 136. According to www.gafcp.org, about 5.2 percent of every 1,000 female teenagers in Georgia gave birth and 8.49 percent of 1,000 teens in Gordon County gave birth in 2008.
Despite these staggering numbers, the teen birth rate in Georgia declined 32 percent between 1991 and 2008. During this time, NCPTUP estimated that Georgia taxpayers saved an estimated $361 million, due to this decrease.
The progress Georgia has made in the last 17 years is due in part to educating residents about teen health and the risks of being sexually active, said Vickie Spence, executive director of the Gordon County United Way.
“We’re improving, but we still need to get the word out,” said Spence.
While Spence said abstinence is the only way to fully prevent teen pregnancy, she also advises an open discussion between parent and teen about the parent’s expectations.
“Realistically, we have to start talking about it. Everybody thinks it should be handled at home, but in many cases it’s not,” said Spence.
Gordon County offers a bevy of resources to help educate parents and teens alike. 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.
“The best predictors of a child’s success is the education of the mother and the income of the father. I applaud the Child Development Center at Gordon Central High School for what they are doing,” said Spence “A lot of success stories come from there and they are getting some good role models too.”
“Reducing teen pregnancy not only improves the well-being of children, youth, and families, it saves taxpayer dollars,” said Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. “At a time when policymakers and others are intensely focused on cost-saving measures, funding proven efforts to reduce teen pregnancy is important, timely, and should be a high priority.”
For more information about teen pregnancy and childbearing costs visit www.thenationalcampaign.org or www.gordonconnection.org.