County looks to reverse high teen pregnancy rate

Kingman has highest rate in Mohave County

Mohave County is reaching out to teens and their parents.

"Kingman has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the county," Jane Collins, a community health education specialist based in Kingman said.

Collins and Bullhead City County Community Health Specialist Janie Tinnon, Nursing Supervisor Angelica Pichardo and Nursing Services Manager Christine Bronston are launching the Mohave County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

Educators for the program have already been hired and will provide parents and teens with scientific information about preventing teen pregnancies. "Teen pregnancy is both a local and a national concern. Mohave County's rate is high, and our focus is to reduce the local pregnancy rate for 15- to 19-year-olds," Collins said.

"The program is funded by the Arizona Department of Health Services with monies from the state lottery," Bronston said.

"Beginning in January 2008, funds were focused on teen pregnancy prevention throughout the state. The statistics reflect Mohave County as having one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state, so it made sense to fund a program that will address this health issue."

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, in 2006, Kingman teens 19 years and younger had a total of 136 births, Bullhead City teens had a total of 110, Lake Havasu City teens had a total of 67, and teens in Colorado City had a total of 21.

"Even without knowing the local teen pregnancy rate, most people know this is a major problem in our communities," Tinnon said. "A lot of people I have talked to are surprised this program is only now becoming a reality."

Collins said the county plans to start the program in Kingman first because of the high number of births to teens.

"We are establishing an advisory board and have had three meetings comprised of community leaders in Kingman. We are reaching out to a diverse group, which includes educators, faith leaders, paralegals and others who are concerned with this problem," she said.

The group will make its first presentation to one of the highest risk populations for teen pregnancy in the county, the Juvenile Probation Department.