West Virginia needs comprehensive sex education to lower the teen birth rate, Hale said.
"What I found out is that comprehensive sex education is a known preventative strategy and the department of education has this fantastic sex education curriculum from fifth grade to twelfth ... the problem is that a lot of schools aren't implementing it because of the fear of talking about sex," Hale said.
That attitude is not helping decrease the rate of teen births, she said. Everyone can do something to change that attitude, she said.
"All of us need to pitch in," Hale said. "We all have a role."
It's also important that teenagers have a vision of their futures, she said.
Teen births have consequences, Hale said. One in three girls cites pregnancy as her reason for dropping out of high school, according to Kids Count. Babies born to teenage mothers who never married and didn't graduate high school are also more likely to be poor and unhealthy.
West Virginia had an overall ranking of 39th in the nation for the well being of its children. The ranking takes into account the percent of low birth-weight babies, infant mortality and child death rates, children in poverty, percentage of teens who are high school dropouts, percent of teens not attending school or working and others.Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.