Roanoke teen pregnancy rate 3 times state average - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Roanoke teen pregnancy rate 3 times state average

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A newspaper clipping from 1993 about high teen pregnancy rates in the Roanoke Valley is something Karen Pillis. the director of youth development at Family Services of the Roanoke Valley has kept in her desk to remind her of why she comes to work every day.

"It's something that we, the adults of the Roanoke Valley would like our youth not to have to overcome at such an early age,” Pillis said.

Between 1991 and 2010 there were 196,70 teen births in Virginia, costing the state five point four billion dollars. In that time, however, teen pregnancy has decreased by forty nine percent.

When that news article first came out Virginia had one of the highest rates of teen pregnancies in the nation with Roanoke leading the way.

Today, things are improving. WSLS checked the state numbers and the total number of teen pregnancies on average decrease by about 1000 each year.

There is significant improvement throughout the New river Valley and the Roanoke Valley.

Roanoke city, however, still remains three times higher than the state average. Pillis says that is because urban areas like Roanoke have high contributing risk factors.

"We have a high poverty rate. We have a high rate of children being raised by single mothers themselves,” Pillis said.

Although Roanoke numbers remain much higher than the state average, they constantly continue to decrease thanks to outreach programs like Family Services of the Roanoke Valley who actually go out into schools and speak to teens, tackling the problem head on.

Sarah Jane Lawrence is one of those people. She is the teen outreach program manager with Family Services.

"We really want them to grasp just how hard it is to be a teen mom, or a mom in general.  We do a lot of service projects where teens get to go out and work with infants and toddlers and see what is that really like.”

Together they hope to help teen moms succeed, and prevent the struggle from happening at such an early age

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