In one of its latest slaps to the forehead, the state Senate wants the state's community colleges and universities to join the battle against teen pregnancy.
It's embarrassing. Our leaders, at least in the Senate, seem to believe if we could only reach 18- and 19-year-olds and give them the information and tools they need to avoid unwanted pregnancies, our teen pregnancy scandal would be over.
It's certainly scandalous behavior on the part of the leaders who insist abstinence is the only way to avoid pregnancy. That's a very costly mistake -- one that should be enough to make a fiscal conservative blush.
Mississippi First, an activist group that believes "broken public policy has historically impeded progress in Mississippi," says births to teens 17 and under account for more than 82 percent of the societal costs of teen pregnancy. Those 18- and 19-years-olds account for a little more than 17 percent of those costs.
Using methods developed at the University of Pennsylvania, Mississippi First estimates every $1 invested in teen pregnancy prevention saves $4.34 in the first year and $17.23 over five years.
In 2009, teen pregnancy cost Harrison County $7,964,235, Jackson County 5,894,865 and Hancock County $1,621,170, Mississippi First estimated using the Penn methodology.
For that price, Harrison County could have hired 189 more teachers, Jackson County 140 more and Hancock County 38 more. Or they could have hired police officers, nurses, paid college tuition, any number of things.
Across the state, the toll was more than $155 million. Think of what that infusion could do for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.
Perhaps we'd be better served if they stuck to creating a brighter future for Mississippians. A future that makes young people say, "We can have that if we don't get pregnant."
We can't afford to wait until our children are 18. Those most at risk are already having sex by then; prevention has to begin much earlier.
The way to solve this problem is to reach them early in life and teach them the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy.
The lost opportunities, the tougher road to a good education, the greater chance of living a life in poverty.
And they need to know about contraceptives, because thousands of them aren't going to say no.
It's the job of parents to arm their children with this knowledge. But too many children don't have parents, they merely have "adults" living with them.
As a society, we can't let these children suffer the consequences of bad parenting.
This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board, which consists of President-Publisher Glen Nardi, Vice President and Executive Editor Stan Tiner, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Flora S. Point, Audience and Human Resources Director Wanda Howell, Marketing and Interactive Director John McFarland and Associate Editor Tony Biffle. Opinions expressed by columnists, cartoonists and letter writers are their own.