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Haywood County High School Fighting Teen Pregnancy

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

HAYWOOD COUNTY, Tenn.- School officials are working to connect students in community events after a recent study showed Haywood County teens have the highest teen pregnancy rate in West Tennessee.

Haywood County's teen pregnancy rate has been reportedly more the state's average rate for the past 11 years straight. Haywood County School officials said now their community is coming together working to give teenagers more support.

"The different organizations in our community to help children are partnering with Haywood County Schools," said Haywood County School Chief Operations Officer, Art Garrett, "to work to see our children succeed."

Residents celebrated Haywood County High School's homecoming Friday afternoon. Counselor Pam Deivold said student community involvement is key for an at-risk student's success. "Our homecoming parade is not just a high school homecoming parade," said Deivold,"it involves all of the community."

Garrett said the parade is an opportunity for students to get more involved and give back to their community. Officials said the activity highlights all of the positive youth development programs that focus on preventing teen pregnancy.

Teachers said their high school now teaches abstinence awareness. County school board members voted for educational programs that teach the problems of sexual activity outside of marriage.

"Our curriculum focuses on abstinence but we have counselors working with children and counselors working in classrooms," said Garrett.

Teachers said they believe teens who build strong community relationships are less likely to engage in risky behavior. "It has been proved that if a student has a supportive adult in their midst around them that cares about what they are doing, they will stay and do what they are supposed to do," said Deivold.

School officials said providing fun healthy activities outside of the classroom that reward good behavior is making a difference.
"It makes them feel like they are apart of what's going on and it makes them know as they go up in school that its important to get to that senior year," said Deivold.

According to the Tennessee Health Department, each county branch offers contraceptives for teenagers. Any youth who wishes to gain more information on teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases can check with their local health clinic.
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