FULTON, NY – In recognition of May being National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, Oswego County Opportunities health educator Janelle Hutchinson has teamed with other OCO Youth and Family Services Programs and the Rural After School Program to address the issue of teen pregnancy in Oswego County.
“We have seen an increase in teen pregnancy in Oswego County for the first time in several years,” said Hutchinson. “According to the most recent NYS Vital Statistics, Oswego County teen pregnancies increased from 198 in 2006 to 239 in 2007. A substantial increase as the number had been below 200 since 2002. Even with this increase Oswego County has a teen pregnancy rate of 37.0 per 1,000 females ages 15-19, which is lower that the state average of 59.2, however, this news is only part of the picture. Our teen birth rate is 30.1, which is substantially higher than the rest of the state (24.0) and equal to the rates in New York City. These and other statistics can be found on line at www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/vitalstatistics/2007.”
Hutchinson added that there are a number of health consequences involved with having sex as a teen and becoming a teen mom.
“The children of teen mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and at low birth weight compared to children of older mothers, which raises the probability of…infant death… blindness… deafness…. chronic respiratory problems… mental retardation… mental illness… cerebral palsy… dyslexia… and hyperactivity. Babies born to teens face a range of developmental risks as well. For example, these children report poorer physical and mental health compared to children born as the result of an intended pregnancy. And a new analysis from Child Trends indicates that, children 2 years old who were born as the result of an unplanned pregnancy have significantly lower cognitive test scores when compared to children born as the result of an intended pregnancy. In addition there is the issue of sexually transmitted diseases. Even though young people aged 15-24 represent 25 percent of the sexually active population, they account for about half of all new cases of STDs,” she said.
Throughout the month of May OCO’s Youth and Family Services and Education Services will be coordinating a number of Resource Fairs at area high schools.
Scheduled during the lunch hours, the Resource Fairs will offer students the opportunity to receive information on pregnancy prevention services and to visit with representatives from OCO’s Health and Nutrition Services, Youth and Family Services and Educational Services.
They will also be able to visit with some teen mothers who will share their experiences.
“It is a great opportunity for us to deliver our message to the teens and talk to them about the many services that are available to them and the importance of making healthy choices,” added Hutchinson.
Information available to teens during the Resource Fairs will address the following topics and more:
- Relationships / Dating
- Handling Peer Pressure
- Sexual Decision Making
- Sexual Harassment
- Community Resources
Hutchinson added that OCO’s Youth and Family Services has partnered with local florists, salons and the floral department at BOCES.
“Throughout the month of May these businesses will distribute with their services an informational card that states, Be Safe, Be Smart, Be Savvy! May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. Whether a girl is having her hair or nails done at a local salon, or a boy is stopping in to pick up his date’s corsage, they will receive these cards which also will have the phone number for OCO’s Health Education services,” said Hutchinson.
Local youth may also participate in OCO’s annual poster contest that focuses on pregnancy prevention.
The posters are currently displayed at Backstreet Books & Bistro, 201 Oneida St.
Community members and youth will choose one winning poster.
The posters will be used in the future as a tool to promote NTPPM and as educational tools.
To learn more about National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, call Hutchinson at 342-0880 ext 3, or visit www.thenationalcampaign.org or www.advocatesforyouth.org/