It’s prom season, and romance is in the air. And so is anxiety for adults.
There’s a lot of planning that goes into high school prom night. But it’s those events students don’t plan for that keep Dr. Beata Nelken up at night.
Nelken, a pediatrician, runs Central Falls High School’s health center. The clinic's services include testing for sexually-transmitted diseases, birth control and education about sexual health. She also gives her patients "prom bags" filled with condoms.
“I was trying to scheme with the kids about how I could smuggle condoms into their bathrooms,’’ she said, jokingly, “or just hide out in my tinted car and distribute (them) like a drug dealer.” She sighed. “I really am terrified about tonight because there’s a lot of prom babies....”
The teen pregnancy rate in Central Falls is nearly four times the statewide average, according to Rhode Island KidsCount. The nonprofit reports teen moms are less than half as likely as their peers to earn a high school degree by the time they turn 22.