MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) Teen pregnancies across the United States are down; however, Alabama still ranks in the top 10 states for high pregnancy rates among teenagers.
According to the Mobile County Health Department, the national rate of pregnancies for girls ages 15 to 19 is 31 per 1,000 teens. In the state of Alabama, it is 43 per capita. In Mobile, it is nearly 54 per 1,000 teens.
"Alabama's birthrate has been consistently higher than the national birth rate. Mobile County's birthrate is higher than the state of Alabama. So we have a problem," said Director of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Center Jillian Ransom.
The Health Department reported Alabama ranks ninth for teenage birth rates in the country. Mobile County ranks number one out of all three metropolitan areas in the state.
Ransom stated Mobile County Schools have recently partnered with the center to launch a new program for middle schools called Making a Difference.
"It has a very strong abstinence based program to it, but it also focuses on ways to prevent STD's and pregnancy. So it doesn't use fear tactics," said Ransom.
The Centers of Disease Control provided Mobile County with a five year grant to help reduce teenage birthrates by 10 percent. Officials hope the new initiative will be more effective and make a difference with preteens' sexual behavior.
"Adults feel like we equate information with permission to go out and have sex, and research states when teens get info, they appreciate and use the information," said Ransom.
Ransom added it's important for preteens and teenagers to have someone they can openly talk to about sex.
"If they can't go to their mom, they should be able to go to their teacher. If they can't go to their teacher, they should be able to go to a counselor," said Ransom.