Teen pregnancy rate in McLennan County higher than national aver - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Teen pregnancy rate in McLennan County higher than national average

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)

They say babies are a gift, that sometimes come earlier than expected.

Charity Hernandez got pregnant while she was in high school. She said her son wasn't a mistake, but it was very difficult to raise him when she was just 15 years old.

"It was me and Raymond against the world," said Hernandez. "I was basically a baby raising a baby. I had to figure it out, and it is not a fun feeling."

Now 35-years-old, Hernandez has the perfect family. She and her husband have seven children and 18-year-old Raymond is a sailor in the U.S. Navy. But she won't forget the struggle she had to go through when Raymond was growing up. 

"I don't believe that kids even understand what they're getting themselves into because I didn't understand what I was getting myself into," said Hernandez. "I didn't get to go to prom. I didn't get to go to walk the stage at graduation." 

A new report shows that teen pregnancy is a problem in McLennan County.

"The teen pregnancy rate is higher than the state average, which is higher than the national average," said Natalie Kelinske, director of communications with the Waco Foundation.

The Waco Foundation found these results through a report conducted by a firm called 1,000 Feathers. Through collaborative efforts with Prosper Waco and the Smart Babies Initiative, the Waco Foundation hopes to tackle this issue in our community.

"If we can reduce the rate of teen pregnancy and those outcomes that babies who are born to teen moms just have a higher risk of, then we can ultimately improve the quality of life for children ages zero to three."

Kelinske said the plan is to create better access to health care, increase sex education in schools and promote conversations between parents and their teens.

Hernandez wishes she had better resources years ago, which is why she makes it a priority to educate her children on safe sex practices.

"I don't want them to struggle like I did," said Hernandez. "If you love this baby, that's not even born yet, you would wait."

To learn more about the Waco Foundation's Smart Babies Initiative, click here.

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