Nueces County was known as the “teen pregnancy capital of Texas” in the early 1990s, with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.
However, recent data shows the rate of teen pregnancies in South Texas has dropped by more than 50 percent.
Officials speculate there are many reasons for the drop in numbers. One spokesperson with the Nueces County Health Department said young women are now focusing more on their careers instead of starting families.
In 1990, the Nueces County Health Department reported 926 teen births.
Cidalin Monreal gave birth to her daughter when she was just a 16-year-old student at Robstown High School. She recalled the shame of telling her mother she was pregnant.
“She was very upset and sad. I was supposed to be the first for everything,” Monreal said.
She briefly attended Texas A&M University-Kingsville, but at times she felt like she had lost control.
“School, homework, studying, taking care of my baby and working. It was overwhelming. It was just so much,” Monreal said.
Monreal said her parents never spoke to her about sex. She went on to earn two degrees and has two children of her own. Monreal said she’s taking a more open approach with them.
Two decades later, those statistics have been cut in half with 458 teens giving birth in Nueces County in 2016.
Experts with Women’s and Men’s Health Services believe conversation is one key reason for the decline.
“We have so many parents that are willing to bring in their kids now. I want to say it’s because I think in the 90’s whoever was a teenager then has a teenager now, and doesn’t probably want their children to go through what they went through,” Yvette Mejia said.
Fully aware that not all teenagers practice abstinence, the clinic provides low-cost services to teens such as pregnancy tests, condoms, and STD screenings.
Clinic experts also visit local schools to teach students about the options available to them.
The clinic operates Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday on-call hours are available in special circumstances.
In addition, the Communities in Schools program partners with 13 nearby school districts. Caseworkers provide teenage mothers with support to help them achieve their high school diploma.
“We do work with Workforce Solutions to connect them with daycare assistance and maybe even a job if they need a part-time job,” Christa Creek said.
Other services the program provides include bus passes, and purchasing school supplies and clothing for teen parents.
Meanwhile, the Corpus Christi Independent School District aims to keep teenage parents on track by offering them easy access to childcare. Four of the six high schools have daycare centers on campus for students with small children. Those campuses include Moody High School, Miller High School, Carroll High School, and Ray High School.