May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month
Today, May 2, 2012, all over the country teenagers, school systems, after school programs, community organizations, families, and government agencies are celebrating the 11th Annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. While the month of May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, for the last 11 years, the first Wednesday in May has been designated as a day of awareness and prevention.
The United States has made tremendous strides in the last 10 years in reducing the teen pregnancy rate through education and clinical services. According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, the pregnancy rate declined 42 percent from its peak in 1990. The teen pregnancy rate in 2008 was 68 per 1,000 girls ages 15-19, down from 117 per 1,000 in 1990. These are the lowest rates we've had in 40 years! The birthrate also declined 35 percent between 1991 and 2008, from 61.8 to 40.2 births per 1,000 teens. The study also revealed that teen pregnancy declined among all racial and ethnic groups since 1990 -- down 50 percent for whites, 48 percent for black teens and 37 percent among Hispanic teens.
While the study by the Guttmacher Institute shows tremendous improvement, the need for awareness, advocacy, education, and clinical services is greatly needed.
- In 2008, 750,000 teens in the U.S. became pregnant
- The United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy, births, and abortion in the fully industrialized world. (1)
- Georgia has the 13th highest teen birth rate in the nation. (2)
- In 2010, 19.8 percent of all births among teens ages 15-19 years old were repeat births. (7)
- Teen pregnancy costs Georgia taxpayers more than $465 million annually
Why should prevention efforts continue? Research and data have proven that there is a direct correlation between teen pregnancy and generational poverty, high school drop-out rates, and incarceration, thus diminishing the overall economic progress of individual communities. The domino effect of teen pregnancy is realized in exorbitant tax costs for Medicaid, welfare benefits, and the criminal justice system.
What Can Parents Do?
- Engage in regular conversations with your teen and eat meals as a family as much as possible
- Talk to your teen about sex when opportunities arise like during television programs or listening to music, which contain sexual material
- Share your values about education, sex, marriage, family with your teen
- Know and relate to your teen's friends and their parents
- Provide structured fun activites after school and during the summer where your child is subjected to adult supervision
- Advocate with your local Board of Education for sex education in schools
What Can Teenagers Do?
- Stay engaged in structured after school activities like sports, music, clubs, etc.
- Choose friends who share your values and educational direction
- Maximize opportunities to learn new skills
- Set, write down and post educational and career goals by 6th grade
What Can Communities Do?
- Provide evidenced-based curriculum sex education in schools, beginning in middle school
- Support and promote community based programs provide evidenced-based curriculum sex education
- Partner with Family Planning Clinics and other health agencies to provide parent sex education sessions
- Recognize and promote health days like Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month (May), Let's Talk Month (October), STI Awareness Month (April) and Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (February)
- Establish a Youth Advisory Council that consists of teens from various areas in the community
- Provide structured activities for youth in a safe environment at recreational centers
For more information: please contact Valerie Hicks, Adolescent Health & Youth Development Coordinator.