East Tennessee County Among Highest for Teen Pregnancy

By: Kim Bedford
By: Kim Bedford

Morristown, Hamblen County (WVLT) - - The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth says for each one-thousand teens ages 15 to 17, an average of 43 Hamblen County teens were pregnant in 2004.

The Hamblen County Department of Education is concerned, but it's not clear if all 43 girls were even in school.

"Certainly it's not something we're pleased about to be fourth in the state," says Brenda Dean with Hamblen County's Department of Education.

Dean says the county's ranking is a problem saying, "anytime that there's one pregnant teen, one unwed mother, we know that that student herself is at risk for not finishing school."

Dean says they have a number of trained counselors on hand to work with the pregnant teens in school.

"It's a challenging thing to be a mother, and this is a young mother who's caring for a child, a sick child, and has to get her homework done and has to get to classes," says Dean

Dean says last year they had 17 teen pregnancies in their school system, and while no exact number is available for 2004, she believes the majority of the 43 were not enrolled.

"It's based on your home county and you're a teen, and Hamblen County has the highest migrant population of children in upgraded youth in the state," says Dean.

If they're not in school, many of the pregnant girls may end up at Knoxville's Florence Crittenton Agency.

"Our home base program receives a very high number of Hamblen County girls," says Foster Care Coordinator Angel Mapleton.

Mapleton says Hamblen County's high ranking boils down to education saying, "not educating these teens well enough of teen pregnancy and not educating the parents on what they need to do to ensure that their teens do not get pregnant."

Mapleton says drugs and alcohol are a big factor, but an involved parent can make all the difference saying, "they need to talk to their teens about teen pregnancy, they need to supervise their teens, they need to give these teens the support that they need."

Out of the state's 95 counties, Sevier County ranked 31st, Knox County 36th, Anderson County 49th, Roane 67th, and Blount County 72nd.

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