When it comes to important decisions, adults usually talk to or about teens, but few involve them in the decision-making process.
But as officials with the Georgia Public Health District 2 have discovered, engaging teens in conversations about teen-related issues can be very fruitful.
Health officials recently approached students in Cathy Kimbro’s Advanced Family Services class at Lanier Career Academy about working on a project concerning a teen-related public health issue.
"They gave us a couple of topics to choose from, but we weren’t really interested in those," said Trista Crumley, one of the student researchers.
"So we decided to come up with our own topic: teen pregnancy prevention. We chose that one because it’s a big issue that needs to be addressed."
For several months, the team of five students gathered data and researched the topic before presenting their findings to health officials.
In their report, the students outlined reasons why teens engage in behavior that leads to pregnancy, its consequences and even possible solutions.
Two reasons why teens engage in unsafe sex that leads to pregnancy are a lack of parental guidance and low self-esteem, the students discovered.
"Teen pregnancy isn’t the problem; teens making poor choices is the problem," said Jurryan Butts, one of the researchers.
"Parents have to communicate with their teens, talk to them, not preach at them."
According to the students, of the 13 counties in District 2, which includes Banks, Dawson and Forsyth counties, Hall County has the highest teen pregnancy rate.
Although the students were surprised to discover Hall’s high ranking, they found out something even more shocking.
"There are some kids as young as teens who have gotten pregnant," said Judith Barber, Lanier Academy student. "After reading that, I think they should start teaching (age appropriate) sex education in schools to students at an earlier age."
The information the students gathered has been compiled into a brochure and will be distributed in the public health district.