Kids having kids: Why you should care

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS (KRIS) -- If you're the parent of a teenager, pregnancies are one of those problems you have to worry about, and you certainly don't want it to happen to your child.

Even if you don't have children, there's a reason you should care, when kids have kids, you pay for it.

Back in the early 1990's, Nueces County earned a title that no one could be proud of. We had one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation. Since then, big money has been pumped into prevention programs. But has it worked?

For the last 21 years, Terri Alford has worked with teen parents within Corpus Christi ISD. In a typical school year about 220 students become pregnant.

"This year, our numbers are the lowest they've been in a long time as far as new pregnancies, we're sitting at about 152," says Alford.

Access to preventative services, along with teens and parents taking more responsibility, are credited with bringing rates down.

Nueces County no longer tops the list for teen pregnancy, but there's still room for improvement.

"I just think parents need to keep talking to their children. don't depend on someone else to do it," says Alford.

17-year olds Gabriella Lara and Timothy Castillo are teen parents. Gabi just graduated and has a fulltime job. Timothy will graduate later this month. But getting here wasn't easy. Gabi got pregnant when she was only 15-years old.

"I think at that point in time, I guess what we were thinking is that it couldn't happen to us. But life happens," Gabi tells us.

Gabi and Timothy are working hard to beat the odds, but teen pregnancy isn't easy. It puts the girls and boys at a disadvantage in school. In many cases the situation sets them up for more hardship down the road.

"If they get pregnant, they're not ready to be right now. Somebody's going to pay for it at the end of the day," says Martha Zuniga of South Texas Family Planning.

In 2010, Texas spent more than a billion dollars of taxpayer funds dealing with issues related to teen births. The county and state funded preventative services aren't cheap for taxpayers, but appear to be working.

In the last 20 years or so the teen birth rate in Texas has dropped 43 percent. Programs like South Texas Family Planning work everyday to bring numbers down.

"We're one of the organizations that have committed ourselves to decreasing teen pregnancy by educating them, informing parents, and really bringing the community together to address the issue," says Cynthia Gonzales, the assistant executive director.

Gabi and Timothy admit that before they became parents both had access to preventative care, but failed to take advantage of it.

Both agree if they could offer any advice to other teens they'd say be safe, don't be in denial, and better yet just wait.

"Abstinence, yes. Any child, any teen should not have to go thru the things that I have or any other teen parent has," says Gabi.


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