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Ark-La-Tex In-Depth: Preventing Teen Pregnancies - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Ark-La-Tex In-Depth: Preventing Teen Pregnancies

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According to a government report teen births are at their lowest level in nearly 70 years.

Even Arkansas, which leads the country in the number of babies born to teenage mothers, has experienced a 16% decrease since 2007.
    
A National Center for Health Statistics report found that teens in Arkansas gave birth at a rate of 51 per 1,000 females of their age group in 2011.
    
Child advocates point to more programs as a reason for the drop.

Hendrickeca Arnett was just 14 years old when she found out she was having a baby.  

"I was sad and hurt really because I didn't want to be pregnant in school," said Arnett.

The 21-year old mother is working towards getting her GED.

At the time of her pregnancy, she says it was difficult to find support, but there are now more resources available.

Mary Schroeder is the project director for the THRIVE Home Visiting Program desgined to provide support for pregnant or parenting teen moms.

"We give the mom the resources to be the kind of mom that she wants to be, but doesn't really know how," explained Schroeder.

Right now, THRIVE provides help and counseling services to 15 teen moms in the Texarkana area.

Schroeder says trained professionals visit the moms in their homes and provide them with parenting information and resources.

"We talk very explicitly about birth control and the importance of not having more children than they can take care of," said Schroeder.

First Choice Teen Pregnancy Center also provides programs to teens or young mothers.

Executive Director Kristi Wright says they no longer receive federal funding for their abstinence program, but they continue to message.

"We know it's not a popular position, but we are still trying to get it out there and if the unplanned pregnancy isn't what scares them, the stds should and often do," said Wright.

Statistics show teen moms are more likely to drop out of school and face poverty.

Wright says education is the key to breaking the cycle.

"We don't just say, don't have sex," said Wright. "We acknowledge that it's going to be difficult and you're going to have to have a plan."
 
While Arnett loves her little boy, she believes teens should think about their choices before becoming pregnant.  

"If you're young now and thinking about having one, please wait because it's not what you think it is," said Arnett.

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