Sky-high teen pregnancy rates in OK and TX

Lawton_On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control released state rankings for teen pregnancy and both Oklahoma and Texas fall very close to the top of that list. That means Texoma has some of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the entire country. Teachers say some of the reasons for high teen pregnancy rates include poverty, substance abuse, and cultural atmosphere. To bring the pregnancy rate down, changes must be made.

Family Life experts say when teenagers start having sex early on, they're really looking for something deeper. "They're trying to find a place where they belong and that they feel loved and that if it's through sex, that's what they're going to do. They can't differentiate sex is not love," said Family Life teacher Donna Kriz.

That goes for teens across the country. But for 4 counties in our area -- Greer, Harmon, Tillman and Jefferson counties -- teen pregnancy rates are about triple the national average of 40 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19. Some experts think funding may be a factor. "If you talk about New England and the cost what they spend per child per student on education, it's a lot higher than Oklahoma's," said Lisa Barnes. She also says some parents do not stress the importance of goals for a future. "They may not be encouraged to go on with their education it may be you're going to get married you're going to have a kid this is what you're going to do."

Teachers say what happens at home may be one of the biggest reasons teen pregnancy rates in Texoma are so high. "I think a lot of the problem is there's not enough parent involvement. The parents aren't around to monitor what their adolescent is doing," said Barnes. Both said parents need to talk to their kids more -- before their child becomes part of the statistic. They also say the community at large can help.