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Commentary By Joyce Fourth Clemons: End Teen Pregnancy, Reduce Deficit

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Lawmakers in the District are facing a ballooning budget deficit, as are legislators in many states across the country. Commentator Joyce Fourth Clemons -- with the organization DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy -- is offering one suggestion for cutting costs: Put an end to teen pregnancy...

The District of Columbia is in the midst of a crisis. The government is running out of money. And at the same time, child poverty is increasing to tragic levels.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF is a big ticket item in D.C.'s budget. And more than half of all TANF recipients started their families when they were teens.

Teen pregnancy is a one way ticket to persistent poverty. Yet government continues to ignore a very important way to help children out of poverty and balance the budget.

There are only two ways to prevent pregnancy, be it teen or otherwise: Either don't have sex, or if you do, be sure to use birth control every single time.

Motivating teens to pick one of these options in the first place is the way to go.

Boys and girls who can see a good future are more likely to avoid pregnancy. It also helps when teens have a chance to learn new skills and develop talents in their free time.

School success from an early age seems to inoculate against teen pregnancy. So does having a sense of belonging, and teen friendly health care that is routine and regular.

And the number one way to prevent teen pregnancy is for boys and girls to feel connected -- to their schools, their neighborhoods and most of all, to the adults in their lives. But it's a two-way street.

Trustworthy adults play a big role by providing supervision and making a serious investment in the well-being of teens that they are responsible for. That means never giving up on them and remaining a reliable presence for the long haul.

The time is now for the District of Columbia to get serious about preventing teen pregnancy.

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