If you have a teen living in the Quad Cities, the chance they will become a teen parent is declining.
In Rock Island County, 12.1% percent of teens birthed a child, according to the most recent data from the Illinois Department of Public Health. That is significantly higher than the Scott County teen birth rate of 3.1%.
Mary Ann McLeod of Bethany Quad Cities says the drop in teen pregnancy is a direct result of educating teens about sex.
“We go to several schools in the Quad City area and reach out to students through education and prevention,” McLeod said.
Through their programs, they have seen teen pregnancies drop across the board.
“Both the Caucasian and the African American rate have gone down,” she continued, “Hispanics have stayed the same for about three years but it has gone down a little bit too,” McLeod said.
Teen moms like 17-year-old Brianna Mowery of Rock Island High School says parents must talk to their children about sex.
“Parents shouldn’t scare their kids when they talk about it. If you make them scared then this happens, they become pregnant,” Mowery said as she rocked her 8-month-old baby girl Toni to sleep.
Because of the history of high birth rates in Rock Island County, Rock Island High School has a daycare and education center for teen parents who attend their school. Mowery is one of 14 moms who attend the school who use the service.
“We take care of their child while they are in school so that they can continue their education, graduate, and go on to their career choice,” said Julie Larson, of the YWCA of the Quad Cities.
But Larson says the number of teen moms they see has gone down.
“In 1991 when we started this daycare, we had 24 babies, today we only have 14,” said Larson.
Once a week, the daycare center also has education classes for teen parents to help them become better moms and dads.
But teen moms like Brianna Mowery say she would give this advice to her peers.
“It can wait, just wait.”