Teen Pregnancy

By: Tina Stein
By: Tina Stein

Most girls this age are worried about what's caught in their braces, but at 17-years-old, Alicia Judge has bigger concerns than dental hygiene. She's eight months pregnant. And so are 163 others in the Rockford School District.

"It's pretty common now. I have a lot of friends throughout the schools here in Rockford and a lot of them are pregnant now," Judge says.

Judge's friend Tyrhonda Showers is also pregnant. But unlike judge, she doesn't blame her conception on a broken condom.

"It wasn't an accident I was kind of planning to you know. So I was happy. i just wanted one I did I just wanted one cause I wanted a baby to play with," she says.

Teen pregnancy has gone up 57-percent within the last five years. School administrators say that has a lot to do with better record keeping and teen pregnancy becoming more socially acceptable.

"The fact the girls aren't being sent away to other relatives if they're found out to being pregnant they're seeing a value to their education and finishing their high school years," says Health Services Supervisor Mary Fisher.

Both girls say they plan on returning to school next year. But say their sex education courses didn't prepare them enough for a sexually active lifestyle. Since teachers focused more on abstinence rather than how to have safe sex.

"My friend used a condom and she's on birth control and she had a baby I'm like I don't think it works so I don't see a point of using birth control," Showers says.

Female students are also required to take Early Childhood Development. In a portion of the course, students must take home a plastic baby that's programmed to cry at all hours. It's of course meant to scare students with the realities of having a baby. However some students say the exercise made them want one even more.

The Illinois School Code and State Board of Education makes those guidelines for sex education classes. So it's not the Rockford School District determining how those topics are taught. Now for girls who are pregnant, the district offers an "early pass" so they're not stuck in crowded halls during the passing period. Plus, Mothers Establishing Life's Directions, a support group, meets with the pregnant girls on a regular basis.


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