One in 10 American babies are born to a teen mother


The good news: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the teen birthrate is way down.

The bad news: The country still has the second-highest teen birthrate among developed nations. Only Bulgaria has more teens having babies.

Half of young women who have babies in their teens don’t get a high school diploma by the age of 22. A third of their children will go on to become teen parents and are also more likely to do poorly in school and drop out.

Why has the teen birthrate fallen so much, and yet, is so comparatively high? And what can be done about it?

There’s a significant difference in teen pregnancy rates by race. There’s also been a steep decline in the black and Hispanic teen birthrate since 1991. Take a look:

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Black and Hispanic teen girls are about two to three times more
likely to give birth than white teens. But racial and ethnic disparities in teen birth rates also have to do with poverty. Teen birthrates are higher, notes the CDC, among all lower-income teens.

Hispanic youth have the highest rates of teen birth. They also have the lowest contraceptive use. But black youths have the highest rates of sexual activity, with 58 percent of black teen girls and 72 percent of black teen boys having ever had sex.

What do we do about it? The CDC says it’s vital that we address our sky-high teen pregnancy rate, especially because it estimates it costs our country about $9 billion a year. It underscores the importance of increasing access to accurate sex education, contraceptives and helping parents communicate with their children about sex. They also recommend creating positive community environments for teens to hang out and participate in positive activities–in other words, give them something to do besides having sex.

Teen pregnancy is a controversial issue. Some believe it’s about morality and abstinence. Others think we should be emphasizing education and knowledge. Where do you fall on this issue? What do you think needs to be done to curb the high number of teens still having babies in our nation today?

Photo credit: janineomg

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