MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 15, 2014

Education vital to battle teen pregnancy


— Everyone knows that abstinence is the best — and the only 100 percent effective — way to fight teen pregnancy.

But everyone also should know that information is not permission.

Muskogee County is one of eight counties that represent more than half (52 percent) of all teen births in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma State Health Department. Muskogee County is the fifth highest in Oklahoma in teen births in 2012.

These numbers are unacceptable, and they must be addressed.

Teen childbearing in Oklahoma cost taxpayers at least $190 million in 2008.

We’ve been teaching and preaching abstinence since the 1990s. The teen pregnancy rate has not dropped significantly since the focus of abstinence has been implemented.

Like it or not — and we don’t — teens are going to have sex.

If you don’t have the discussion, you take away the No. 1 chance of influencing teens to make smart choices.

Sex is not a recreational activity. But to a lot of teens — because of a lack of education about it — that’s exactly what they treat sex as.

Education is vital. A simple “Save yourself for marriage” talk doesn’t provide nearly enough information.

The Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health Prevention Program staff has conducted focus groups and interviews to investigate the high teen birth rate. The Muskogee Community Anti-Drug Network (CAN) will host a town hall meeting to unveil the research results Feb. 27.

If you have a teenager, we urge you to attend this event.

If you go

WHAT: Teen Pregnancy Town Hall Meeting.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Feb. 27.

WHERE: Muskogee Public Library, 801 W. Okmulgee Ave..

INFO: Muskogee Community Anti-Drug Network, (918) 683-4600. Call to reserve a seat.