Apparently there is something in the water in Frayser High School in Memphis Tennessee. Or better yet, they’d be smart to put birth control in the water at this high school where over 90 students have gotten pregnant this year alone. Considering there are 978 students that attend Frayser High School, 508 of which are girls, this means 18% of girls attending this high school have either currently pregnant or recently gave birth.
The school is scrambling to reduce this ridiculously high number of teen girls who are pregnant, a problem that adults are just starting to react to, according to Alicia Williamson, a 2004 graduate.
“When we would come back from summer break, there would be a thousand people pregnant,” she tells WMC-TV. “We were like, ‘what’s going on?’ There were a whole lot of bellies. You had to watch out so you didn’t bump into them. Being 2011, I thought a lot of them would have thought this is not the right way to go, having babies during school time.”
Interestingly enough, while the number of pregnant teen girls may have seemed staggering to some, they weren’t that far from the norm for Memphis, where teen pregnancy rates are between 15-25%, reports MSNBC.
Frayser High School is a title one school, which means 95% of students are eligible for free lunches and more than 100 students drop out between 11th and 12th grade, states Public School Review.com.
But, no matter what the reason, whether it be blamed on socio-economic factors or a lack of proper sexual education, Frayser High School seems to have caught national attention for this growing issue.
In an effort to combat these pregnancy rates, local authorities are planning a massive campaign targeted towards preventing teen pregnancy, and it will especially focus on “saying no to sex” or at least using condoms if engaging in sexual activity.
However, Memphis City Schools Superintendent, Kriner Cash, told WMC-TV that it wasn’t just the students who were responsible for the high pregnancy rates; older men outside of Frayser were also contributing to the problem.
“Too often in Memphis it’s not the peer group. There are older men who are predators on these young females.”
Unfortunately, telling young women to abstain from sex when Cash claims that older men are to blame for a large part of this problem isn’t really going to do much. These young women are incredibly vulnerable and teaching them abstinence will not help them in certain situations.
In fact, the only way to help the young people of Frayser is to give them comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education that covers all forms of birth control and explains the consequences of unprotected sex, like contracting STDs and dealing with unplanned pregnancy. Self esteem workshops would also be of benefit to these young men and women to teach them that their bodies are valuable and that they have worth.
Not having readily available access to abortions or birth control is also a problem for those living in Tennessee. Unfortunately in January 2011, more restrictions were placed on abortion. Minors must now get consent from their parents before an abortion is provided and public funding for abortion is only available in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.
Until we start to get real about teen pregnancy, population control and comprehensive sex education, we will continue to see teens carry a burden that they are unequipped for. And, we will have to clean up the mess.