Forum acknowledges hardships of teen pregnancy
FROM RIGHT: Rosa Diaz presents teen speaker Anna Hernandez, 18, during a teen and parent forum Tuesday at Brawley Union High School library. (JOSELITO VILLERO PHOTO / October 2, 2012)
Victoria is a 17-year-old senior at Desert Valley High School and mother to 4-month-old Devan Holt.
“I wouldn’t be able to go to a lot of things if it weren’t for the help of my family and my son’s dad,” Victoria said. “My mother has never stopped supporting me. It’s because of that and my own motivation that I’ll graduate from high school next year.”
Victoria was one of a number of guest speakers at Brawley Union High School’s first community teen and parent forum.
The forum’s focus was on the challenges pregnant or parenting teens like Victoria face every day.
While teen pregnancy rates in California have been on the decline steadily since 1991, according to the state Public Health Department, Imperial County still has some of the highest rates.
Earlier this year, the state Public Health Department released a report showing that Imperial County had the third-highest three-year average for teen birth rates at 55.7 births per 1,000 females ages 15-19.
In almost every statistic, teen birth rates in California are declining, yet teens like Victoria continue to provide an example of the care and responsibility that must be taken to not end up a statistic.
“All together, I hope that people learned they need to be responsible,” she said. “If they do end up in a situation like me, they shouldn’t be scared. There are people who can help.”
Like Victoria, fellow speaker Gloria Frausto also spoke about the challenges she faced when she became pregnant with her son 22 years ago.
“At 17, I had so many goals and aspirations, but they changed the second I became pregnant,” Frausto said to the roughly 40 teens in attendance. “I was in denial for about four months. I could not believe what was happening.”
Frausto went on to say it did not become any easier once she gave birth.
“Now, my son is OK,” she said. “But he was born premature and had severe asthma problems growing up. It was just another obstacle I had to face.”
The forum was organized and put on by the Brawley Union High School District and local agencies after a local parent stressed the need for it at a board meeting last spring.
“I have two daughters that are 15 and 16,” Rosa Diaz said. “I didn’t want them to think of teen pregnancy as a norm in their school so I decided to address the board.”
At the end of the speeches, Diaz also reminded the audience of the high rate of cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in Imperial County.
“You owe it to yourself and your partner to protect yourself from all these things,” she said. “Teen pregnancies effect everyone.”
The next forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 6 and will be held at the BUHS library.
Topics such as domestic violence and child abuse will be discussed.
BY THE NUMBERS
55.7 — Average births per 1,000 females ages 15-19 during a three-year period for Imperial County. The number is the third highest in the state between 2008-2010.
29 — Births for every 1,000 females in California in 2010. The birth rate has decreased every year since 1991, when the rate was 70.9 births.
45 — Births for every 1,000 females for Hispanics, which is the largest sector of teen births in the state. Hispanic teens accounted for the second-largest decline between 2010 and 2009 at 11 percent.
— Source: California Department of Public Health
Staff Writer Karina Lopez can be reached at 760-337-3439 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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