Unplanned Teen Pregnancies Cost Lubbock County Taxpayers Millions - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/15/08

Unplanned Teen Pregnancies Cost Lubbock County Taxpayers Millions

Each year, unplanned teen pregnancies in Lubbock County cost taxpayers millions of dollars. In addition, experts say, the number of teen moms on the South Plains is on the rise. Lubbock County is above the state and national average for teen births and in some zip codes, the rate is nearly ten times higher.

Over the past two years, the number of teens who have given birth in the City of Lubbock has increased more than 30%. These girls are 17-years-old and younger. In 2005, 189 teens gave birth. Last year, that number jumped to 250. While many believe these statistics do not affect them personally experts say think again.  

"I made a mistake," Samantha Servin said. She is just 16-years-old and just weeks away from giving birth. Samantha says she found out she was pregnant when she was 15. 

Samantha was a sophomore at Estacado High School when she says she made an adult choice to have sex with her boyfriend of about a month. "We thought we were using protection but I guess we weren't," Servin said.

Manager of the Matador football team and involved in Youth Corps, Samantha says she finished out the school year. But it wasn't easy. "You're walking around there's girls just constantly teasing you, talking about you knowing that they've preformed more actions and they just haven't made the mistake of getting pregnant," Servin said.

From January through June of this year, 115 teenage girls under the age of 17 have given birth in Lubbock.  In addition, that number will increase, as 15-year-old Amber Johnson is also just weeks away from a delivery room. "It's my own fault for going out and doing it," Amber said. 

Amber was just 14-years-old and a freshman at Monterey High School when she and her boyfriend got pregnant. NewsChannel 11 asked, "Were you guys using protection?" "Yea actually" Johnson said.  "What kind of protection?" NewsChannel 11 asked. "A condom," Johnson added. Apparently it did not work and Amber is now nearly 9 months pregnant.

As more teens give birth you pay the price. In 2004, teen pregnancy cost Lubbock County taxpayers nearly $4.5 million. "That includes health, loss of wages because mom dropped out of school. That includes the fact that 22% of pregnant moms who have a son, their son will end up in prison or juvenile," Linda Brice said.

Brice teaches at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center School of Nursing. She's researched the problem for the past five years, and says when it comes to teen pregnancy Texans pay more than any other state. "People say it doesn't concern me, I don't have somebody who's pregnant. Anybody who owns property, who buys things in the store, it affects you because your taxes have to pay for part of that," Brice said.

Brice says teen pregnancy is not an individual issue but a community problem. "A teen that drops out of school because of pregnancy has a one percent chance of ever getting out of poverty. A teen that ends up with two babies her chances are about zero of ever getting out of poverty," Brice explained.

Brice adds the problem is not just on one side of town. "It's pervasive throughout. You have pregnancy in all the high schools and in the middle schools," Brice said.

It is a reality both Samantha and Amber see every day. NewsChannel 11 asked Samantha, "Is it common to see pregnant girls at school?" "Yeah it is," Samantha replied. 

NewsChannel 11 also asked Amber, "Is getting pregnant becoming a cool thing?" She answered, "I don't think it's a cool thing. But I think that's how kids are starting to look at it, cause like everybody is doing it and I guess everybody thinks they have to go and do it."

Both Samantha and Amber tell NewsChannel 11, despite the challenge of being a teenage mother they plan to finish their education.

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