Photo: courtesy Rutger Middendorp
Jennings County has the highest pregnancy rate per capita in Indiana. The area about 65 miles southeast of Bloomington struggles to teach family planning.
In Jennings County, the pregnancy rate is 73 births per thousand teens. Rachel Lewis had two kids while she was a teenager and says she wants make sure they don’t repeat her mistakes.
“My childhood was taken basically or my teenage years. I didn’t go to prom. I didn’t get to do any of that stuff because I was at home with my kids.
Jennings County Public Health Nurse Pam Petry says she’s not surprised by the teenage pregnancy rate, because the number of sexually transmitted diseases has also been on the rise with area teens.
“Chlamydia is one of the biggest STDs that we see,” says Petry.
Jeanie Hahn, the Executive Director of the Jennings County Council on Domestic Violence says local officials don’t have many resources to help teach abstinence or safe sex. What’s more, she says some in the community welcome children as a means of getting more money for a household.
“You also get more benefits when you have a lot of kids, as a town Trustee I can speak to the fact there are several people that use the system,” Hahn says. They like to get their children to come move back in with them so they can claim the grandchildren they can get more in food stamps, they get more help, they’re eligible for more federal programs,” she explains.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated $6 billion is lost in tax revenue yearly because of teen pregnancy and childbirth costs.