With teen pregnancy on the decline nationwide, it might come as a surprise that pregnancy rates at QHS don't follow.
Students as Parents Support Service Director Laura Henke at Quincy Senior High says at the beginning of the school year she had 29 students enrolled in her pregnancy and parenting class, the most teen parents she has seen in the school district in her 18 years at QHS.
The program ensures that students can stay in school and allows them to bring their children with them to a nursery. It provides a support group and direction as well as what she says is a hope for an education and a bright future.
"Most of them become single parents because they are teenagers," said Henke. "Boyfriends come and go. How bad does that sound?"
Henke says that with students coming in from other school districts just for the pregnancy and parenting program, Quincy is seeing the enrollment numbers for her program go up.
Henke says the students seem to be educating themselves. Watching the teen parents go through this, she says she hopes will make them stop and think.
Ebony Elston is a senior at QHS and a mother of two. She says many teens see the fun parts of parenting and they don't see the reality when the bell rings and it's time to go home.
"You have to take care of a whole new life besides yourself and you have that big responsibility that you're really not ready for," Elston said.
Henke says the school teaches abstinence and doesn't discuss safe sex with high school students in a classroom setting. But Ebony says most high school students are sexually active.
"A lot of people hide it and just pretend like nobody's having sex, but they are," Elston said. "And some schools they don't provide condoms and stuff and they probably should."
School Board President Bill Daniels says the school is following the mandates set up by the state of Illinois. The Illinois Compiled Statutes for Curriculum says the schools should be teaching that abstinence is the only fool-proof way to avoid pregnancy and STDs, but it also says the schools should be teaching the latest medical information citing the failure and success rates of condoms in preventing AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Elston says education would make the pregnancy rates come down. She said the more choices students have, the better they could make informed choices because she says most students her age are sexually active and the abstinence talk just isn't cutting it.
Daniels says for the school board to consider teaching something other than the required curriculum in the ILCS, like safe sex, someone would need to bring this up with the curriculum committee.
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