2007-09-26 / Editorial

Why It Matters

This week The True Citizen begins a series on teen pregnancy and its effect on our community. A lot of readers will just shrug it off as a symptom or a consequence of today's culture and lifestyles. They won't realize how the proliferation of teen pregnancy affects everyone in our society and our economy. We hope those readers are a small minority and that most of you will take the time to become informed about an issue that is especially important in Burke County.

In 2004 teen childbearing cost taxpayers over $9.1 billion, an average of $1,430 per birth. Those costs include, but are not limited to: $1.9 billion in public sector health care costs and $2.3 billion for increased child welfare costs.

Research shows that a child born to an unwed teenage mother who never receives a high school diploma or GED has a 64 percent chance of growing up in poverty. Taxpayers, again, end up footing the bill to support those children.

Statistics also show that teen pregnancy is linked to increased incidences of domestic violence, putting additional strains on law enforcement agencies. Additionally, over 50 percent of adolescents who become pregnant have a history of childhood sexual or physical abuse.

All in all, the consequences and costs of teen pregnancy should be a concern to everyone - not just those directly affected. We hope the series not only sheds some light on this important social and economic issue, but will, more importantly, motivate readers to get involved in finding solutions.

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