Pregnancy prevention summits stress education - - Jackson, MS

Pregnancy prevention summits stress education

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Two separate teen pregnancy prevention summits were held at the Jackson Convention Complex Thursday.

The Women's Fund of Mississippi teamed up with the Mississippi State Department of Health to look at a broad range of solutions to prevent teenage pregnancy, including abstinence plus.

Mississippi schools are required to teach sex education courses. The summit explored how some school districts are implementing abstinence plus.

Most teen pregnancy prevention advocates say parents play an important role in educating children about the consequences of sex.

"Only about 55 percent of Mississippi fathers and about 60 percent of Mississippi mothers have ever had this conversation about sex and pregnancy with their teen," said Women's Fund of Mississippi Director of Programs Jamie Bardwell.

The impacts of teen pregnancy are clear.

"Girls who dropout are more likely to be unemployed and they're more likely to earn lower wages than men who've dropped out. And as a result, they're more likely to rely on public support in order to support themselves," said National Women's Law Center Senior Counsel and Director of Education Policy for At-Risk Students Lara Kaufmann.

Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Bryant's Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi organization brought 200 teens to the convention center.

Bryant says abstinence works and children will listen to authority figures.

"What we're trying to say is, let us educate you about what it does to your future and how much more difficult it will be for you to be successful in life as a teen parent," Bryant said.

The first-term Republican says children should wait to make adult decisions until they are an adult.

He says parents must be involved and have the conversation about sex with their teens.

Several Lawrence County High School students attended the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Summit on Thursday.

Senior Jalen James and junior Joy Applewhite participate in Teens Getting Involved for the Future, or T.G.I.F.

The program allows teens to talk with middle school students about how to make deal with peer pressure and make choices. The topics include drugs, alcohol, and sex.

"Always just save yourself. You know, wait for marriage and all that, and I can pass that on from generation to generation," is what James says he tells his peers.

Applewhite poses the question, "Where is that one moment of temptation gonna carry you later on in your life?"

The group teaches abstinence but Applewhite does believe there has to be more sex education in the classroom.

"You need to actually teach them how to prevent themselves from getting pregnant or coming up with an STD."

Eighty-one school districts in the state teach abstinence sex education.

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