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Teen pregnancy a growing problem in the Tyrone area

Blair County is participating in the second annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy on Wednesday, May 7.
The message of the National Day is straightforward, teens need to think about the importance of postponing pregnancy and parenthood until they are adults, and they should make a personal commitment to do so.
Across the United States, the National Day is sponsored by the nonprofit National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. In addition, more than 140 prominent national organizations have signed on as National Day partners.
“Even though the United States teen pregnancy rate is down, it’s the highest in the western world,” said program manager of Teen Link Connection program, Kathy Gregg.
On the local front, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Team has been created. This is a team of schools, social service agencies, former teen mothers, parents, college professors, and media all across Blair County dedicated to bringing about awareness of the issues of teen pregnancy and ways to prevent it.
“The reason we became interested in the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy in Blair County is because we’ve known for years that the Blair County teen pregnancy rate is very high in the state,” said Gregg. “In fact we are seventh out of 67 counties. That’s looking at the big cities and rural areas.”
In fact in Blair County, one out of nine births are to teen parents, which is well above the national average.
“Definitely there is a high teen pregnancy rate in Tyrone. I’ve worked with some of the teen moms myself,” said Gregg.
The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Team of Blair County is only in its beginning stages. This year it is able to collaborate with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy to sponsor an online effort to get teens to stop, think, and decide what they will do to avoid teen pregnancy.
On Wednesday, May 7 teens can go online to www.teenpregancy.org and take a short, scenario-based quiz that asks young people what the best thing to do is in a number of sexual situations.
“The National Day quiz serves as a concrete activity to help teens break through the ‘it won’t happen to me’ wall of denial,” said director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Sarah Brown.
The reason the quiz is online is because more and more teens use the Internet and have easy access to it. Also, the quiz can be forwarded to their friends through e-mails and instant messaging.
However, another way that teens can learn about teen pregnancy is by talking with their parents or guardians. Parents can stress the importance of decision making to their children and answer any questions the teens might have.
“They still say that parents talking to teens is one of the biggest factors to preventing teen pregnancy,” said Gregg. “Parents make the biggest difference.”