Mississippi To Make Teen Pregnancy Problem Worse

Mississippi has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation and there’s no reason to think those numbers are changing anytime soon. More than half of the state’s school districts have chosen an abstinence-only approach to sex ed, staring in the fall.

In total eighty-one districts will teach teens absolutely nothing about smart sexual health and education. Of those districts seventy-one have chosen abstinence-plus programs which could include a brief mention of contraception but would not demonstrate correct birth control usage such as condom demonstrations.

The state’s largest school district, DeSoto County, chose abstinence-only. The second-largest district, in the city of Jackson, chose abstinence-plus.

A study released last fall by nonprofits in the state showed births to teen or preteen mothers cost Mississippi $154.9 million in 2009. That included increased costs of foster care, social services and incarceration for young people born years ago to teen moms. It also took into account lost revenue from people who have lower levels of education and lower-paying jobs because they became parents when they were younger than 20.
The study was done by a nonprofit, nonpartisan group called the Mississippi Economic Policy Center and was sponsored by the Women’s Fund of Mississippi. It was also supported by Mississippi First, an advocacy group for health and education issues.

On the heels of that report, Mississippi enacted a law that requires school districts to teach some sort of sex education, beginning in this academic year. Districts had a June 30, 2012, deadline to choose abstinence-only or abstinence-plus. Under a previous law, Mississippi school districts were not required to teach either comprehensive sex education or abstinence. Districts were allowed to teach abstinence, but if they wanted to teach more than that, they needed local school board approval.

State Health Department statistics show that in 2009, there were 7,078 live births to mothers aged 10 to 19. That meant that for every 1,000 girls or women in that age group, about 64 gave birth to a baby who lived. The rate for the U.S. was 39 live births among every 1,000 girls or women younger than 20. The statistics do not include pregnancies that ended in stillbirths, miscarriages or abortions.

Mississippi has a public health crisis on its hands and the leaders of the state either don’t know or don’t care. Science, and not religion, should drive the substance of public health education, and sex ed is public health education. When it doesn’t, well, we get news like this out of Mississippi.

Related Stories:

House GOP Might Shut Down Government Over Contraception

Mississippi TRAP Law Upheld, Clinic Given Reprieve To Comply

5 Ways Girls Inc. Is Helping Young Women Rise Above Teen Pregnancy

Photo from dizznbonn via flickr.


Jane Mckenzie
Jane Mckenzie5 years ago

working for organisations where I have been required to oversee advice services for young people in relation to sexual health and all that goes with it. I have had arguments with colleagues from other children's services about why staff have given advice, information, or signposted to counselling services - children as young as 9 and 10. They don't get it. A 9 or 10 year old girl seeking this kind of advice or help - is not 'promiscuous' or a victim of sex education too early. It is much more likely that these children are victims of adult, predatory males - maybe family friends or worse. Does Mississipi really want to keep children in ignorance.

Jane Mckenzie
Jane Mckenzie5 years ago

Children, young people and policy makers need the most up to date information and education about sexual health, reproduction, contra ception and what to do if contraception fails, or they have had non-consensual sex. Good well planned sex education does not promote promiscuity.

Heidi S.
Heidi S5 years ago

what happened to separation of church and state? ......they don't care to teach you that you dont have to get pregnant....then they crucify you if you want an abortion....then they don't give a shit if you grow up to be a hoodlum and make the same mistakes bc you weren't raised by a proper responsible adult?? .....let's perpetuate the growing divide of the top 1% from the rest of us at the bottom so there's more of us to make them richer....just because you "believe" .....stand up and believe in common sense and PROPER 21st century out of the dark ages education for EVERYONE

Leia P.
Leia P.5 years ago

so stupid

Kelsey Valois
Daniele Valois5 years ago


Jordan Davis
Jordan Davis5 years ago

Girls aged 10-19?? 10??? You mean in 2009, a 10-year-old in Mississippi gave birth????

Deborah F.
Deborah F5 years ago


Tony C.
Tony C5 years ago

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation. Children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anyone else. If children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help others not to tease or bully them.
It should not matter if a child comes from a FAMILY of a mother and father, 2 mothers or 2 fathers or a single mother or father as long as they are LOVED.
Sex Education should be taught on LGBT, Contraceptives, Masturbation, Pregnancy and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier. Children should be taught the JOYS and the CONSEQUENCES of having sex ( Pregnancy, STD, AIDS and others.) I believe this is a solution. Stopping the damage before it starts so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principles where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. If children grow up with these values, I believe business and government would benefit greatly. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

Ingrid A.

Mississippi seems to have wrong fashion, TV program and no Mc Donald's ice Cream.

Nancy Crouse
Nancy Crouse5 years ago

This state's approach to 'sex ed' is like turning a blind eye to the issue at hand. If you ignore it maybe the problem will just go away. This is the same mentality of say, a cat or dog when they sit with their back to you, they cannot see you so, you must not be able to see them. Hence, the problem just goes away. The logic is all there, can't you see it?