Rally Urges Teens To Consider Abstinence

(Jackson-AP) -- With one of the nation's highest teenage pregnancy rates, Mississippi is stepping up a sexual abstinence campaign for unmarried young people.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and Department of Human Services Executive Director Janice Broome Brooks led a "Just Wait'' rally today at the Capital. They were joined by about 200 middle school and high school students.

Musgrove told the students that if they're already having sex, it's not too late to stop.

DHS has offered abstinence as its only teenage pregnancy prevention program for years. Quency Coleman works for the "Just Wait'' program and says DHS does NOT need to give contradictory information by talking about birth control while promoting abstinence.

State Health Department statistics show 9,508 Mississippi girls ages 10 to 19 were pregnant in 2000, the most recent year for which numbers are available. That's 42.9 pregnancies for every 1,000 teenage girls in that age group.

Of those pregnancies, 8,266 babies were born to girls ages 10 to 19, and 236 of the babies were born to mothers ages 10-14.