Oklahomans have a lot of pride, and who could blame them? This state is diverse, beautiful, and full of amazing people. Yet, it is also incredibly unhealthy, and teen childbearing is no exception. We are ranked number five (on the bad end) in teen births to 15-19 year olds and number two in teen births to 18-19 year olds. In fact, twice as many teen girls were giving birth in 2008 as were entering the freshmen classes at OU and OSU combined! (Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy)
Teen pregnancy and birth is no laughing matter. Not only does early motherhood cause socioeconomic, emotional and physical strains for the teens, but premature childbearing is financially detrimental to our state. In 2008, teen childbearing cost Oklahoma taxpayers 190 million dollars! (National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy)
So what can we do? Unbeknownst to many, Oklahoma has an incredibly active coalition of teen pregnancy prevention specialists, and Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, strives to provide high quality reproductive healthcare services and educational programming to the youth in our state. We offer classes to schools, community groups, churches, and more. However, we need more state and local support. It is important to lobby for comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education in our public schools. PPCO is here for Oklahoma youth, and we will continue to provide top quality sexuality education because, simply put, our teens deserve better.
Check out this published "Letter to the Editor" on NewsOK!