Dallas leads the nation in the percentage of teen births that aren't the mother's first delivery, a nonpartisan national research group finds in a new report.
Dallas had the highest percentage of teen births that are repeat births – 28 percent – among 73 major U.S. cities in 2006, the latest year for which city-level data are available.
Texas has the highest repeat rate of any state – 23 percent of teen births. And five of the 15 worst-ranked cities are in Texas.
It's a typical day in any one of the 7 Dallas ISD high schools that family advocate, Mark Morales visits on a weekly basis. On this particular day in this particular classroom, 11 girls, freshmen and sophomores mostly, are struggling to keep their eyes open. Being young mothers with babies, or being in the final, uncomfortable months of pregnancy, sleep is a luxury.
One young girl, a small but very vocal 14 year old sits in the front row and seems to be the expert on teen parenting. She has a 1 year old, currently enrolled in the Low Birth Weight Development Center. According to experts, she stands a good chance of having another child before age 18. It still surprises Mark that some of the girls in this class still know so little about pregnancy, child birth and parenting; including how a child is conceived.
Texas teens lead the nation in having babies, according to a recent study by the nonprofit group Child Trends. But even more alarming is the number of teenagers who are having more than one child before adulthood. According to the most recent statistics available, 24 percent of the state's teen births in 2004 were not a first delivery.
There is a crisis among teens , especially those living below the poverty level. "In Texas, the problem is especially pronounced among Latinos. According to the most recent statistics available, Hispanics between the ages of 15 and 19 accounted for 61 percent of teen births in Texas in 2004, even though they made up just 39 percent of the state's adolescent population.
Just about anyone can look at the situation and see what a toll this will take on already stretched state financial resources. Poverty is a huge factor, Being a teen parent or being pregnant in high school makes it extremely difficult to graduate. A study, issued by America's Promise Alliance, indicated that Dallas had a graduation rate of 44.4 percent in 2004. The cycle repeats itself.
How We Help
Quality, no-cost childcare for infants and toddlers while their teen mom is in school
Weekly child nutrition and parenting classes for teen parents
Outreach and life skills groups in DISD schools an area private schools
Support groups and counseling
Tutoring if needed in order to remain in school and graduate
Follow up with school to track graduation progress
Teen Star Program for Young Parents (both male and female)