|WCSI Local News|
Statistics recently released by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at IU in Bloomington shows Jennings County 7th graders abuse substances more than other 7th grade students in the southeastern part of the state.
Jeanie Hahn, executive director of the Jennings County Council on Domestic Violence, says the statistics were "frightening" when they saw what was going on there. Hahn says heroin use has really become a problem in Jennings County over the last year, but it's not just that drug kids are abusing.
"It's everything from alcohol to prescription medication that they're trading in school or getting at home from grandma's pill bottle or who knows where and marijuana," Hahn said.
Hahn says they don't have a substance abuse program in place for kids younger than 7th grade. But for the last seven years, the Council on Domestic Violence has been talking to 7th, 8th and 9th grade students about teen dating violence, sexual assault, rape and substance abuse.
She says their statistics are now showing that by the time the county's 7th graders reach 9th grade, their abuse level for substances lowers considerably. So Hahn says the kids in those grades are being reached through the group's programs and is happy that the substance abuse problem in Jennings County is dropping off a little bit by the time students get to the 9th grade. Hahn also credits programs at Jennings County Middle School that are targeting kids and working with them on this issue.
The same statistics show that Jennings County is ranked number one when it comes to teen pregnancy. Hahn says teen pregnancy has always been an issue in the county and is an ongoing problem.
When asked why it's such a problem, Hahn says they aren't sure, but it could be a generational thing where mom had a baby at a very young age and it's just that not big of a deal to have a child when you are 15 or 16.
"Back in the ancient days when I was growing up, there was a real stigma to teen pregnancy and that's not so much anymore which is good," Hahn said. "But on the flipside I don't think children understand that they are raising a child, so you have children raising children. And lack of birth control, facilities and you don't have a lot of sex education going on, so it's a combination of things."
Even though the Council on Domestic Violence doesn't offer a teen pregnancy prevention program, Hahn says they do talk about risky behaviors like when you abuse substances, you are more likely to engage in unwanted sex and then in the morning think "oh my goodness, what have I done." She says they also talk about what it's like to be a teen parent and the challenges and problems a person will face like finishing your education and finding a good job. Hahn added that schools, churches and families also need to talk to their kids about teen pregnancy.
Last Updated: Monday, March 18, 2013 8:15:33 AM
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