Teen pregnancy rate down in Richmond - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Teen pregnancy rate down in Richmond

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

The number of teen pregnancies in the city is down 30 percent.

In 2008, Richmond city recorded 916 teen pregnancies. In 2011, that number reduced to 602.

Richmond's public health director, Doctor Donald Stern says the reasons are simple: more kids are waiting to have sex and those who are sexually active are using some form of birth control.

"That is remarkable, it's the highest reduction in teen pregnancy of any locality in the commonwealth and I would venture to guess the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the nation," said Stern.

Five years ago, teen pregnancy among girls 15 through 17 years of age in Richmond was three times higher than the state's average.

Back then, Stern and adolescent health coordinator Gale Grant were new to the city but knew they had to make a change.

They came up with a program called HYPP - Helping Youth Prevent Pregnancy - and put together a super team.

"Having qualified staff who are committed to young people, who resonate with young people," said Grant.

The group taught in the classrooms and collected useful data about every student they interacted with. Grant said studying that data helped the city, help students help themselves. They found ways to empower students to make better decisions about their lives.

"We really applaud our young people because they're making the healthier choices," said Grant.

"I'm not sure kids are necessarily just getting smarter, they're becoming more responsible in the decision making," said Stern.

Grant says reducing teen pregnancy starts at home. Grant stresses the importance of parents starting that dialogue about sex when the kids are as young as 10 years old.

"Hold on to your seat because what I'm about to tell you may shock you - we have young people in our city who are initiating sexual activity between the ages of 10 and 13," she said.

The city hopes the numbers will continue to decline.

The city offers a free teen clinic every Thursday at the Richmond Health Department on Cary Street.

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