Teen Pregnancy Panel

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Teen birth rates have declined for more than ten straight years, and health educators are hoping the trend continues.

The Barren River District Health Department put on a "health for life" health fair Wednesday at Bowling Green Junior High.

Members of the health department's "Teen Outreach Program," or "TOP,” ran a booth dedicated to preventing teen pregnancy. The health fair also included a teen panel on the subject.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Beason is one of five teens sharing their real life experiences in hopes that what happened to them doesn't happen to someone else. What Jessica had to say was she was pregnant when she was only 13 years old. She says she wanted to grow up too quickly and escape what she calls a sometimes dysfunctional family. Now she has a strong message for other students that age.

"Don't get pregnant; don't get pregnant and don't have sex unless you’re ready and know all the complications that come along with it. If you are not ready for that, you shouldn't have sex.

It's advice organizers hope these students will take to heart, especially coming from teens who have experienced the consequences. Like the rest of the panel, Jessica is now balancing school with taking care of a child. She says her goal is to finish high school next year.

May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. To find out more about the teen outreach program, call Carol Kersting at the Barren River District Health Department, 270-781-8039 ext. 134. Or to learn tips on counseling teens about pregnancy prevention, log onto http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/ach/Pregnancy+Prevention+Initatives.htm.