Updated 03/14/2013 06:35 PM
Berkshire County has one of highest teen birth rates in state
Berkshire County has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state. YNN's Madeleine Rivera found out what one organization is doing to help bring this number down.
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BERKSHIRE COUNTY, Mass. -- The sign says it all: Berkshire County has one of the highest teen birth rates in the state.
We asked Kayla DeVaughn, a Pittsfield teen, if she felt the same way. She said, "Yeah, a little bit."
Kristine Hazzard of Berkshire United Way, says that little bit is actually a lot.
"While MA rate has come down 31 percent from 1996-2009, Berkshire County rate has gone up 18 percent," said Hazzard.
Pittsfield and North Adams have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the county. Pittsfield ranked eighth for the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state in 2009.
"They don't know what kind of a struggle it actually is until you go through it," said Sarah Deschamps, a young mother.
But teenagers are not only ones who bear the social and financial consequences by having a child. Teen pregnancy cost taxpayers in Berkshire County $4.7 million. Statewide, the numbers break down like this: $72 million for public health care, $79 million for child welfare and $47 million for incarceration.
That's why Berkshire United Way launched the Face the Facts campaign. They want to educate teens and parents about preventing teen pregnancy.
The speakers at Berkshire United Way said one way to reduce teen pregnancy is by instilling in students the importance of school and the importance of having goals and aspirations. A conversation between parents and teens is also a helpful tool.
"She can feel confident enough to come to me and talk and I'm not going to jump all over her and make her feel scared," said Rainer DeVaughn, mother of Kayla.
We asked if the conversation helped Kayla.
"Yeah, it made me a lot more confident to talk to her, to talk to my parents about stuff," she said.
Face the Facts aims to reduce teen pregnancy in the Berkshires by 10 percent by 2016.