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April 20, 2010

CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
(617) 961-6682


Sheriff Cabral gave testimony at a Boston City Council hearing on teen pregnancy.

Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea J. Cabral recently sat before the Boston City Council to take part in a hearing called to discuss the issue of teen pregnancy.

Ordered by first term At–Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, the hearing was brought before the Council under the new Women and Healthy Communities Committee. Among the subjects to be undertaken by the new committee – which Councilor Pressley founded and chairs – are issues that uniquely impact girls and women on a general basis and factors that destabilize families and homes, which include poverty, joblessness, young teens engaging in early sex and teen pregnancy, among others.

Giving the hearing’s opening testimonial, Sheriff Cabral spoke about some of the long–range effects of teen pregnancy as they correlate to the world of corrections.

“As Sheriff of Suffolk County, I see the impact that children raising children has on society,” said Sheriff Cabral. “The vast majority of the women in custody who are pregnant range between the ages of 17 and 25. Many of these women have more than one child and most of them first became pregnant as teenagers.”

Pointing to a host of circumstances that can too often lead teen mothers into incarceration and similarly self–destructive behaviors, Councilor Pressley cited education as one of the most important preventative factors.

“Teen pregnancy is the number one reason that girls drop out of school,” Councilor Pressley said. “Already facing long odds, by dropping out and giving up on their education, they are virtually guaranteeing that their future will be one of limited opportunities and dependency on city and state social services.”

Included among the representative agencies and organizations speaking during the hearing about the issue of teen pregnancy were the Mayor’s office, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston Public Schools, the MA Alliance for Teen Pregnancy, the Massachusetts League of Community Centers, Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts, NARAL–Pro Choice Massachusetts, and members of the Boston City Council.

According to Councilor Pressley, by calling this hearing – the first in a planned series – the committee has begun seeking to not only examine the causative factors that lead teens to become young parents, but will also work to join teens and families with resources that can help to ease the difficulties faced by young parents. The ultimate goal, said Pressley, is to provide the kind of educational and programmatic support that will begin to decrease the number of teens who become young parents and thereby reduce the resulting burden that is placed upon society.

It is a goal, said Sheriff Cabral, which can and must be achieved.

“We have to address the issue of teen pregnancy,” said Sheriff Cabral. “It is extremely significant. It is a pebble in a pond with such a huge ripple effect.”

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