Early sex education credited for cutting Richmond teen pregnancy rate

Posted at 7:12 PM, Dec 12, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The number of pregnant teenagers in the city of Richmond has been cut nearly in half. There were 497 reported teen pregnancies in 2012, according to the Richmond City Health District. That's compared to 916 teen pregnancies recorded in 2008.

"We're starting to reach a critical mass of young people and we're somehow changing the social norm around early sexual activity,” Richmond City Health District's  Health Coordinator Gale Grant said.

Grant credited teens with using more effective birth control, as well as a team of health educators targeting students as young as 10.

"It matters greatly who teaches them in these areas. It matters greatly that that person stands before them -- and interests with them and believes in what they’re telling them,” Grant said.

The agency measures teen pregnancy rates based on the number of terminations, live births and fetal deaths, which have also dropped.

However, the number of pregnancies in the city is still high. For example, the number of pregnant teens in Richmond (497) is more than triple the amount compared to Chesterfield (298) and Henrico (233).

"Wherever you have more concentrated poverty, you're to have higher teen pregnancy numbers,” Grant said.

Alexia, a 14-year-old student at Martin Luther King Middle School, said she got caught up in the moment and ended up pregnant. She's now is preparing for motherhood while juggling school work.

"I got to sacrifice some things now. I have responsibilities,” Alexia said.

Alexia, who advises other teens think about the consequences before having sex, admits she is scared, but feels comfort in having a support system.

The Richmond City Health District has opened resource centers in five of the city’s 11 public housing complexes where teens can get examinations, HIV screenings and learn parenting skills.