State initiative seeks to cut Nevada’s teen pregnancy rate by a third |

State initiative seeks to cut Nevada’s teen pregnancy rate by a third

by Robb Hicken

The State Human Resources and Education departments are joining in an

effort to cut Nevada’s teen pregnancy rate a third by 2005.

Human Resources Director Charlotte Crawford said this is the second

action plan targeting teen pregnancy. The 1996 plan was designed to cut

the rate from 63 per 1,000 teens to 50 by 2000. She said the state Office

of Vital Records says the 1998 rate made that goal, dropping to 48

pregnancies per 1,000.

But she said officials are concerned that Nevada continues to have the

nation’s highest teen pregnancy rate. She said the goal for the new

program is to cut the rate to no more than 35 per 1,000 adolescent


In a recent report, state officials have pledged to continue the effort

to prevent teen pregnancy.

“This goal will be accomplished through efforts conducted at multiple

levels — state, county and community — with the assistance of youth,”

said Heidi Sakelarios, department spokeswoman.

She added that developing a support network for youth is part of a

five-year plan to “get in touch with what the kids are like in the

community.” She adds that that community could be anywhere in the state.

“Additionally, the family must get involved and get the parents to talk

to their kids, and talking with their kids about sexuality,” she said.

At the time of the report, Nevada’s rates had decreased, but still remain

high. During 1998, 42 percent of young women, 15-17 years of age, who

became pregnant were white; 32 percent were Hispanic; and 13 percent were black. Native Americans accounted for 2 percent, while Asians accounted for 3 percent.

In the same report, in Carson City there were 155 teen pregnancies

reported among girls 15-19. Douglas reported 55 in the same category;

Lyon showed 114 pregnancies; and Storey reported four pregnancies.

Statewide rates showed 4,717 pregnancies in girls 15-19 years of age.

The governor’s youth council was started in 1996, and helped get ideas

from the teenagers.

“They’ve been a help and a tremendous resource,” Sakelarios said. “They’ve

given us feedback on the radio and television spots that have been


Sakelarios said that there has been a lot of momentum nationally to get

the rates down. Some of that includes funding.

That momentum now needs to be transferred to the local level.

“Community members can be involved in it without ever talking about teen

pregnancy,” she said. “They can have some impact in their community by

just getting involved in the teen’s lifestyle or life.

“Get involved in dances, drunken driving and anti-drug campaigns or just

involved in the community,” she said.