Why Were 64 Girls Pregnant at One Ohio School?

April 12, 2006 — -- Ashley Cartwright was 15 years old when she gave birth to a baby girl, Shantae, but in her community she was far from alone.

During the 2004-05 school year, when Cartwright was a sophomore at Timken Senior High in Canton, Ohio, 64 out of nearly 500 girls at the school became pregnant.

"It was crazy," said Cartwright, who is now 17. "I never had sex before and I just wanted to try it out, I guess."

The number of teen pregnancies is on the decline nationally, but there are still pockets where the numbers have remained high, such as in Canton.

At Timken, teen pregnancies cut across racial and ethnic lines. This year, nine girls showed up pregnant on the first day of school, and Cartwright was one of them, carrying her second child.

"Having two babies -- it's double trouble," she said.

Timken has not yet released this year's pregnancy total, though school officials say that it's lower than last year's. When contacted by ABC News for comment, school officials responded with a written reply: "A steady decline in teen pregnancy rates … below the national average for urban school districts."

"Fifteen years ago, it was double what it is today," Canton schools superintendent Diane Talarico said in August.

Ohio public schools offer abstinence education, but Timken goes one step further, providing prenatal programs.

Most girls at Canton, however, do not get pregnant.

"My mom would kill me," said Corrina Hughley, 17. "Plus I want to be a doctor, and that's like something that. … I just can't get pregnant right now."

For some teens who may feel they never got enough attention growing up, having a baby may seem like a way to become the center of attention.

"The parents get like, 'Oh, I'm going to have a grandbaby and I'm going to give you this and get you that,'" Cartwright said.

She escaped a broken home at 6 and still lives with her grandparents, along with her daughters, Jordan and Shantae, and their teenage father, Torrean Stembridge.

"The pressure is not really to get the girl pregnant," Stembridge said. "The pressure is just to have sex so you can fit in with the crowd, or what not."

Cartwright and thousands of teens from dozens of schools have benefited from Canton's support center, which offers medical, educational and financial guidance.

"What we see are very exhausted girls who are out of the loops with their friends because they have another life that they're living at home," said Jill Taylor, director of the Pregnancy Support Center.

Cartwright has dropped out of school, but she hopes to teach others a lesson.

"Don't have sex at all," she said. "Or if you do, be on a condom or be on some kind of birth control."

She hopes to return to a different school someday to become a nurse.