STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Becoming a parent can be challenging for an adult but even more so for a teenager.
At the Teen Parent Coalition, young moms learn about budgeting, nutrition and most importantly, what it takes to be a responsible parent.
Elmarie Carr Brooks is the Director of the Teen Parent Coalition in Starkville. She teaches life skills and encourages parents to do what is best for the child.
“I have taught abstinence the last 4 years. We’ve had an abstinence program. We have seen some of the teen pregnancy rate decrease but not significant enough. We know children, these young folks are having sex. And I have to say it’s partially due to these grown folks. We as adults are not being the role model for our children that we should be and I think a lot of the promiscuity and the things that are going on, are coming from our adults,” says Carr Brooks.
Latoya Robinson was a teen mom and now participates in the Teen Parent Coalition. She says young people have no idea what they’re getting themselves into when they become a parent at an early age.
“You got to make sure they’re fed, you got to change diapers, buy diapers and diapers are not cheap. You have to just do a lot of stuff with them,” says Robinson.
After becoming a teenage parent, plans for the future are also put on hold.
“I wanted to go to college and I really did want to finish school but with me being a teen mom, I couldn’t do like I wanted to do because I had to make sure that my child was taken care of,” says Robinson.
Robinson is now 24 years old and has a supportive family but she advises all teens to wait before becoming a parent.
“Wrap it up and wait. Please wait because having a child is good but if you wait to when you are able to have one, financially-wise and stability-wise. Please just wait because it’s not everything it’s turned out to be,” says Robinson.
A 2011 state law required Mississippi schools districts to teach some type of sex education program, Abstinence Only or Abstinence Plus, for the 2012-2013 school year.
The Department of Education says that more than half of the state’s school districts chose Abstinence Only programs.