Teen pregnancy soaring despite school programs

Teens get taste of parenthood with Baby: Think It Over Program

CENTRAL Queensland has a high percentage of teenage mothers, especially when compared to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.

Queensland Health data has found the percentage of teenage mothers in central Queensland (7.69% of 3146 births), was greater than in the Gold Coast (3.54% of 5902 births) and Sunshine Coast (3.65% of 3942 births).

Central Queensland mothers aged between 15-19 also accounted for almost 10% of all births in 2010.

ABS Births Australia 2012 data also found Gladstone's 2.7% fertility rate last year was well above the state average of 2.03%.

But Gladstone Hospital director of Medical Services Dr Nicki Murdock said it was hard to determine any trends based on the figures.

"One data set does not tell us anything," Dr Murdock said.

"A number of factors come into play when determining whether an area has a problem with teenage pregnancy."

Tannum Sands State High School community liaison officer Carol Shuttleworth said teenage pregnancy wasn't a problem, despite the school hosting an awareness program.

"We haven't got a high rate of pregnancy around here," Ms Shuttleworth said.

In 2010 the teenage birth rate was much lower in Australian than in other Western countries.

Fast facts

  • In 2010 there were 24 births per 1000 of 15-19 year old females.
  • This is higher than the Australian average of 15.5 in 2010.

SOURCE: ABS Births Australia 2011

Teens get taste of parenthood with Baby: Think It Over Program

AT THE start of the year, 15-year-old Chloe Smyth became a mum.

The child, affectionately named Hayley, cried, burped and hiccupped her way into the Tannum Sands State High School student's daily routine.

The pair was inseparable. But after two days, Chloe passed on her responsibility to her classmate, Mairangiatea Tenngara-Philp, 15.

Unlike in the real world where babies are a life-long commitment, the high school's Baby: Think It Over Program gives teenagers a taste of parenthood.

REALITY CHECK: Tannum Sands State High students Chloe Smyth, 15 and Mairangiatea Tenngara-Philp, 15, recommend the school’s Baby: Think It Over Program.
REALITY CHECK: Tannum Sands State High students Chloe Smyth, 15 and Mairangiatea Tenngara-Philp, 15, recommend the school’s Baby: Think It Over Program. Brenda Strong GLABABY

This year the school, along with Gladstone State High School and Toolooa State High School, has pooled $12,295 for the program.

The program is aimed at Year 10 students, to teach them the responsibilities of being a parent.

Tannum Sands community liaison officer Carol Shuttleworth said the virtual babies would build on the school's existing program.

"We're hoping the program takes the glamour out of teen pregnancy," Ms Shuttleworth said.

"It really teaches them that there's a lot more to life than having a baby in their teens."

The Commonwealth Bank donated $9594 to the Tannum Sands State High School Parents and Citizens Association.

Boyne Smelter employees donated $2800 to help fund the program.

Mairangiatea was one of the three boys to put his hand up for the program.

"I thought it would be a great experience," Mairangiatea said. Aside, of course, from changing several virtual nappies.

Topics:  central queensland tannum sands state high school teen pregnancy

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