The number of pregnant teens in some Lubbock neighborhoods is nearly more than 10 times higher than the state and national average. In addition, almost 80 percent of teenage mother's don't marry their child's father.
Two weeks ago we told you teen pregnancy costs Lubbock County taxpayers nearly $4.5 million in 2004. That includes health care, lost wages and other factors, such as 22 percent of boys born to teen moms will end up behind bars. However, there is another voice in this story, teenage dads.
He is not even legal to drink and he's already the father of two. Travore Liggins, who goes by T, met his girlfriend Allison at Lubbock High School. He was an 18-year-old senior and she was a16-year-old sophomore. That summer Allison got pregnant with their oldest daughter, Jaelynn.
T says he learned about sex from his mother, who also was a teen parent.
NewsChannel 11 asked if the couple used protection. "We did the first time but then after that we didn't use protection twice," T replied. "So you did not learn from the first time?" NewsChannel 11 asked. "I did learn from the first one. Like I said, the second one wasn't planned."
T like many other dads balances fatherhood with work - a challenge he says he had no idea was so difficult. "If you're having a kid right now and you're very young get ready to stay up, all through the night," T said. "It's frustrating but you gotta stick in there, you gotta hang in there. You gotta know that you put yourself in that position, so take care of it," T added.
T is an exception to the standard. More often than not, teen dads don't stick around to raise their kids. Nationwide, 8 out of 10 teen dads don't marry the teen mother of their child.
On this July night, 17-year-old Joemichael Delgado and his girlfriend Emily learn parenting skills at a teen parents support group. He, like T, met his girlfriend, who is now nearly four months pregnant, at Lubbock High School.
NewsChannel 11 asked, "did you guys use a condom?" "Not that time," Joemichael said. "Why not?" we asked. "Didn't have any," Joemichael replied. "We didn't really think about it," he added.
Emily now lives with Joemicheal's family and both say they have plans to get married. But still months away from becoming a dad, Joemichael already faces the reality of parenthood. "How has your life changed?" NewsChannel 11 asked. "More hours at work," Joemichael said.
Teen pregnancy is a reality that 17-year-old Jeremy Nelson too knows all too well. "I never thought this would happen to me," Jeremy said.
Jeremy met his daughter's mom at Lubbock Cooper High School. He says just five days into their relationship they started having unprotected sex. Both were 16 years old. "It was kind of an in the moment thing. We didn't really think about it we just kinda got into it," Jeremy said.
Andee was born 9-months later. While the couple tried, the relationship did not work. However, both parents share responsibilities for the 10-month-old. "Extra responsibilities that are really a lot work and people don't think about that when they do that kind of stuff," Jeremy said. "So you don't think about that in the heat of the moment?" NewsChannel 11 asked. "No," Jeremy replied.
That's something T agrees with. "While your children are a blessing, if you had that night to take back and use protection, would you?" NewsChannel 11 asked. "Yeah, from what I know now, I definitely would," T said.
All the teen parents we with spoke with say they do not want their children to follow their example. These teen dads say they plan to speak to their children early about sex in an effort to break the cycle of children raising children.
However, that cycle is not easy to break. Our in-depth report continues next Tuesday on NewsChannel 11 at 10 as we learn more about the cycle of teen pregnancy and some local efforts to break it.
Unplanned Teen Pregnancies Cost Lubbock County Taxpayers Millions
Experts say the number of minor moms on the South Plains is on the rise. Lubbock County is above the state and national average for teen births. NewsChannel 11's Julia Bruck explains how these statistics affect Lubbock County residents.