Ad hoc group forms to address teen pregnancySecond meeting scheduled for this evening
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Nobles-Rock Community Health Services hosted on Monday the first of two introductory meetings in Nobles County to address the high rate of teen pregnancy.
A second meeting is slated for this evening, with invited guests ranging from healthcare professionals to leaders from church and civic organizations and representatives of the community.
The premise of the meetings is to establish a core group of individuals who will work together to assess sex education efforts and build a program to encourage abstinence and safe sex options.
Led by public health nurse Jane Feller and public health educator Paula Anderson, the ad-hoc workgroup will meet monthly to collect community input to address teen pregnancy. According to the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting’s 2006 statistics, Nobles County ranked second behind Mahnomen County in the rate of pregnancy among teens ages 15 to 19.
Articles published by the Daily Globe in late May revealed that more than 20 teens in the Worthington school district are pregnant.
Feller said teen pregnancy is a community issue, which is why they formed an ad-hoc group of community members.
“We’ve gotten together for a particular purpose because the situation calls for it,” added Anderson.
The health educator said sex education needs to happen earlier and more often — not only with children and teens, but with their parents and with the community as a whole.
“While we may agree that abstinence-only is the best practice, research shows that abstinence-only programs don’t delay sexual activity or delay teen pregnancy,” Anderson said.
The hope of NRCHS is to gather input from members of the ad-hoc group and establish a work plan that would be effective in reducing the number of teen pregnancies.
“I’d like to see all the diverse opinions on teen sexuality and bring them together to promote no sex or safe sex,” Anderson said.
After Monday’s initial meeting, Anderson and Feller were encouraged by the input they received. The group will continue meeting monthly to provide input and direction for programming.
“I think we brought together a good group of people that are experts on the topic,” Anderson said. “It will help give us direction. We need help, and to bring in some state-wide (experts) to assist us.”