JACKSON, MS (WLBT) – Mississippi still leads the nation in teen pregnancy.
Wednesday an organization dedicated to stopping the rising trend held a forum at the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center to find out the influences that cause young teens to make life altering choices.
Eighteen year old Vanjessica Johnson is the mother of an eight month old daughter.
"I was talking to an older guy and we were just having relations, and I made a mistake," said Johnson.
She shared her story during a forum hold by The TeacHer Organization Incorporated.
It is a non-profit agency working to educate young women and men on the causes and effects of teen pregnancy.
Johnson is now struggling to raise her child alone and while attending her first year at Hinds Community College.
"If someone would've just told me just wait and just sat down and talked to me and had a conversation, just a motherly figure," added Johnson.
"The first time I had sex I was raped at 11, and I think those are a lot of the things that a lot of people don't focus on," said Dr. Edelia Carthan PhD.
Carthan is an educator and panelist who became pregnant at 15 but later received her doctorate.
The panelists also included activist Shawna Davie, Caryn Womack, health educator with the Mississippi Department of Health and Cassio Batteast a parent and director of F.A.I.T.H. Incorporated.
Members of the panel said teenagers are often introduced to sex at an early age, even in their own home.
They said many times there is no discussion because families are ashamed.
Nineteen year old Ali Jackson is the father of a young daughter.
"I made the decision to be there for her because I didn't want my daughter growing up with a step father. Most girls that I dated back in the past were molested by step fathers and uncles and cousins and everything, and I didn't want my daughter going through that at all," said Jackson.
There were frank discussions about teen pregnancy and STD prevention and the need to hold uncomfortable but realistic conversations with your children about sex.
"It's not getting any better and we have to change the way that we relate to our young people and that's what this forum is about. We want them to tell us what they thing we can do better," said The TeacHer Organization Inc. founder Brandie Finley.
The answer from these young teen parents is that abstinence is not the realistic in the age of the Internet and reality TV but open dialogue to answer their questions about sex.
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