- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 4, 2005

CANTON, Ohio - High school senior Monica Selby thought she would be busy this year planning for college, not preparing for the birth of her first child.

“I’ve been crying every day and every night. I keep on blaming myself for this,” said Miss Selby, 18, who is six months pregnant.

She cries about starting classes last week at Timken Senior High School with a bulging belly, about the emotions of planning an adoption, about becoming part of a statistic that has snagged the nation’s attention: 64 of Timken’s 490 female students — 13 percent — are pregnant.

The statistic at the school in the heart of this old steel city contrasts with a decade of declining teen pregnancy rates nationwide. But those who study teen pregnancy say the problem is not exclusive to Timken High.

“This might be a school that is forthright with its problems while others are not,” said Jay Greene, chairman of the Education Reform department at the University of Arkansas. “But this is a widespread issue.”

Eric Wilson, 18, who works at a hot-dog shop a few blocks from Timken High while making plans to earn his general equivalency diploma and caring for his 2-year-old son, said the spotlight on the school is magnifying an old problem.

“My mom had a kid when she was in school, and now I have a kid,” he said. “It goes back to how you were raised. Down here, it’s not looked too down upon because a lot of parents had kids when they were kids.”

At Timken, expecting students get six weeks of maternity leave.

The number of student pregnancies “has gotten to horrible proportions,” Principal Kim Redmond told the city’s daily newspaper, the Repository. “I wish I knew the answer to why it’s happening.”

Joanne Hinton’s 16-year-old daughter, Raechel, is eight months pregnant. Raechel, who plans to return to the 10th grade, said many students are sexually active and need more information about birth control.

“It can happen to anybody no matter who you are, not just bad girls,” she said.

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