Hardin High School students respond to county's high teen pregnancy rate
Hardin High students say they are more than a statistic (MTN News)
In Big Horn County, 1 in 10 teens becomes pregnant, according to government statistics.
A special report on the Big Horn County's teen pregnancy rate, which is the highest in the state, aired on Q2 in November.
Hardin High School students watched the report, and they have made their own video to explain how the data don't necessarily apply to Hardin.
“We appreciate KTVQ taking the time to expose how we face these hurdles and the solutions that follow. But we feel however, some of our facts need further explanation," a student in the video says.
The 10 percent rate encompasses all of Big Horn County, which includes at least three other high schools.
Hardin High does have a lower teen pregnancy rate of about 6 percent, but it is not unaffected.
“I’m going to be absolutely honest, when I see (pregnant girls) I’m kind of just like ‘another one?'" said one female student in a round-table discussion Monday.
But it’s the way the school and the students respond to teen pregnancy, they say sets them apart.
“I really feel that our school does a really nice job at handling our teen pregnancy rate and how dealing with teen pregnancy," said another female student. "We’re not the kind of school that shuts them out or people are rude or teachers are mean and don’t help them out.”
“With a student that has a child you know, it’s the same thing, we want to care for them and help them," said one female student. "We want to see them walk down the graduation line with us.”
Classes like family and consumer science, along with a day care for babies, help young parents plan for graduation.
And a high percentage of Hardin’s teen parents do graduate.
But the students agree, the school’s pre-pregnancy sex education could be improved.
As it stands, if sex ed is not taught in the home, the lesson could be learned from friends.
“I have never to this day had the sex talk," said one female student. "What I know about sex, I've learned from my friends and that’s not a very reliable source, but you kind of have to do what you have to do to protect yourself from pregnancy and other things.”
One student suggested gender-specific courses.
“For boys, you could teach them about stuff they could get and what can happen if they do get pregnant and ways that they can support themselves maybe," the girls said. "I feel like we should have a class like that.”
The teens also want to de-stigmatize contraceptives.
At the Indian Health Services, condoms are available and free, but they are packaged with a label that says "snag bags," which the students say embarrasses them to carry.
Reflecting on the statistics, Hardin students say they want to inspire change in neighboring schools, and at the same time, show those who do become pregnant, that they are more than just a statistic.