South Charleston couple shares hardships of teen pregnancy - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

South Charleston couple shares hardships of teen pregnancy

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Tuesday was Lindsey Shumate and Daniel Russell's big night out. With two kids, they rarely get time to themselves. So they spent the evening at the mall in Charleston...with their three-week-old son in tow.

"Having kids, it teaches you," said Shumate, of South Charleston. "You have to grow up very fast to handle it, to have the patience for it. It's hard."

Brayden is Shumate's second child and Russell's third.

Shumate, 20, had their first daughter when she was in eighth grade. They both dropped out of high school to help raise their family.

"I want to go back to school," said Daniel Russell, 20. "I love school. I wish I never left school. I take care of my family, that's what I do."

Russell said he supports his family by working the morning shift at a Captain D's restaurant. Shumate said she worked up until her first pregnancy and now receives food stamps.

"I do plan on going back to school at some point," Shumate said. "I don't know when."

Laura Gandee works for West Virginia Kids Count, an organization that aims to reverse the trend of teen pregnancy in the Mountain State.

Kids Count released a report Tuesday revealing that one in seven teen girls in West Virginia will give birth.

The Mountain State ranks 40 in the nation for teen pregnancy rates, based on the latest data from 2010.

"This is one of those issues where everyone has to work together," said Gandee, the communications director for WV Kids Count. "Parents, community leaders, teachers, religious leaders, policy makers.

Gandee said parents need to become more comfortable talking with their kids about sex in age-appropriate conversations. But the goal for WV Kids Count is to "fully implement the state's comprehensive sex education curriculum," which relies on evidence-based lessons for reducing teen pregnancy.

Shumate said she thinks schools could teach more about safe sex, even though her school offered classes.

"It didn't really do much for you," Shumate said. "It just teaches you what [sex] is."

And while Shumate said her parents supported her during two pregnancies, she knows how she'll handle the topic of sex with her daughter when she gets older.

"I wanna be closer with her so that just won't happen," the 20-year-old said. "Come to me when you wanna do something."

But despite the challenges they've overcome--ranging from expenses to family squabbles--the pair said they've encountered far more blessings.

"I'm in love with her," Russell said. "We've been together since '05. I can't leave. This is my family."

"They're my everything. I don't regret it for a second," Shumate said.

To learn more, visit these sites:

Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Initiative - APPI is a statewide initiative that provides Pregnancy Prevention Specialists who work to increase public awareness of problems associated with early sexual activity and childbearing and collaborate with existing community organizations to promote local activities for adolescent pregnancy prevention. Educational presentations are available for classrooms, community groups, faith organizations and parents on adolescent pregnancy prevention.

WV Free - WV FREE is a nonprofit reproductive justice organization that works for West Virginia women and families to improve education on reproductive options, increase access to affordable birth control, and protect personal decision-making, including decisions about whether or when to have child. Organizations affiliated with WV FREE include social justice organizations, student groups, social workers, health care providers, and religious groups.