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Minnesota Joins Teen Pregnancy Prevention Efforts

May 1, 2008

St. Paul, MN – May is "Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month," and Brigid Riley, executive director of the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting, says the message for today's teens is, 'Avoid becoming a parent before you're ready.' And the message for parents of teens? Although you may not realize it, Riley says, you have a big say in the choices your kids make.

"I would encourage parents to discover the information you need and take the time to have some conversations with your children -- about your values, your expectations, and also about where they can connect to health services, if they need them."

Minnesota's teen pregnancy rate is up six percent, and Riley believes the increase is a direct reflection of cuts in proven prevention programs, that teach kids to make the right choices and offer them adult supervision and activities after school. In the long run, she says, these types of programs actually save taxpayers' money.

"When we look at what's happening in our state, there's been a real disinvestment, both in health education and prevention efforts, but also in good, quality enrichment programs and after-school opportunities."

In addition, Riley worries that kids who have kids often don't have the necessary maturity and parenting skills, and may face a lifetime of dependency.

"Unfortunately, a lot of those who become pregnant drop out, if they're still in school. Getting an education becomes a really big challenge for them. There are also ramifications for their children. A lot of those kids aren't ready for school. And, if we're not preparing this group for becoming workers in our society, then they're going to fall behind, and so are we."

Riley is encouraged that pending state legislation would have schools provide comprehensive sex education, which she says is critical to bringing down the teen pregnancy numbers. More information about the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting can be accessed online at www.moappp.org.

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN