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On Our Minds is the name of KERA's mental health news initiative. The station began focusing on the issue in 2013, after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Coverage is funded in part by the Donna Wilhelm Family Fund and Cigna.

Dallas Partners With Nonprofit To Reduce Teen Pregnancies

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings speaking at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.
Syeda Hasan
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings speaking at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.

The city of Dallas has joined forces with nonprofit North Texas Alliance to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy in Teens — or Ntarupt — to try to cut down on its staggering teen birth rate. 

Ntaruptlaunched the effort at City Hall on Wednesday. The group hopes to equip teens with information on birth control, pregnancy and healthy relationships.

"Teens tell us all the time, they wish someone would talk to them openly and honestly about this topic," said Veronica Whitehead, director of programs for Ntarupt, "and when we respond, we need to make sure that we're responding with facts." 

Through this campaign, Ntarupt hopes to slash the teen birth rate by 50 percent in parts of the city. The group has set a goal of doing so in 12 Dallas zip codes with the highest teen birth rate by 2022. 

» RELATED | Pregnant At 15, She Finished High School Early For Her Son — And 'A Different Story To Tell'

The teen pregnancy rate in Dallas is among the highestin the country. It’s also a challenge statewide. In 2015, Texas ranked fifth in the country for its teen birth rate, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Some advocates have suggested that abstinence-only education contributes to the large number of Texas teens who become pregnant each year. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says it’s important to equip teens with factual information about both abstinence and contraception.

“This is such an important issue, you have to put all options on the table," Rawlings said. "You can’t make this a wedge issue for some against this and some against that.” 

Last year, the Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty identified the high teen birth rate as a contributor to poverty in the area. 

"We have to look at poverty as a generational issue," Rawlings said, "so if we want to deal with it in the next generation, we’ve got to stop babies having babies, and so that’s why it’s important to the city strategically.”

Syeda Hasan is the Elections Editor and Reporter at KERA. Before moving into that role, she covered mental health at the station. A Houston native, her journalism career has taken her to public radio newsrooms around Texas.