Teen Pregnancy Problem Plaguing Oklahoma

Tuesday, January 24th 2012, 6:00 pm
By: News 9

The reality of teenage pregnancy is hitting home for young girls across the state.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, many teen girls don't even realize that they can get pregnant.

But, now there's a new push to educate.

Teen pregnancy is at a 70 year low...that's according to the Oklahoma City/County Health department.

Yet, Oklahoma remains number five in the nation for teen pregnancy.

News 9 talked to a young mom about why.

"Where I grew up it was normal," native Oklahoman, Elizabeth Eustice said. " Where I went to high school, you would walk down the hall and see 3 girls pregnant."

Elizabeth Eustice says she was aware of teen pregnancy but never thought it would happen to her.

"When I was younger it was in the moment," Eustice said.

Elizabeth is 21 now, but when she graduated high school, she was pregnant with her third child.

She wishes there was more education in Oklahoma schools for girls like herself.

"It was almost socially acceptable," she said.

"Teen pregnancy is not just a teen problem, not just a parent problem but a society problem as a whole," Oklahoma Co. Supervisor Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, Linsey Garlington said.

According to the numbers just released:

- Oklahoma is 5th in teen pregnancy for teens 15-19

- 6th in the nation for pregnant teens ages 15-17

- and 2nd in the nation for teens who get pregnant at ages 18 and 19.

"To have such a high birth rate in Oklahoma we feel is unacceptable when we know teen pregnancy is 100 percent preventable," Garlington said.

That's why the Oklahoma County department of health started a new program to teach middle school and high school students the facts about teen pregnancy and why they should wait.

"We really promote abstinence and delaying the onset of sexual activity but also teach about contraceptives," Garlington said.

Elizabeth hopes those teens will listen...and not learn the hard way.

"Wait, wait because if I knew then what I know now, I would have waited until I had a ring on my finger," Eustice said.

Oklahoma county health department says half of the teens surveyed for this study didn't use any type of birth control; 33 percent said they didn't mind getting pregnant.

The teen pregnancy prevention program is part of a grant and is county wide and is currently in seven middle and high schools in the metro.