Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Teen Birth Rates

Over the years, my daughters often shared with me the latest pictures of some of their teenage friends with their babies. The young mothers appeared to be very happy. Unfortunately, the odds are very much against them.

According to researchers at the Urban Institute and Child Trends Databank, teen mothers are usually unprepared for the emotional, psychological and financial challenges faced by early childbearing. Teen parents often do not complete high school, limiting their earning potential and the financial support they can provide their children. As a result, these families are more likely to depend on state or federal assistance.

The children of adolescent mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and to die as infants. They generally have less success academically and have more behavioral problems than their peers born to adult mothers. Additionally, children of teen mothers are more likely to become sexually active in their teens and to become teen parents themselves.

However, according to the most recent national vital statistics from the CDC, the good news is that since 1991 teen birth rates have declined from almost 62 per 1,000 females to 41 per thousand – the lowest rate ever reported in the United States. According to Child Trends, working with teens to change their perceptions of sexual activity, reducing other risky behaviors and promoting abstinence values through sex education in home, school, community and media, have all been successful in reducing teen birth rates.

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