Via The Economist, some data about teenage pregnancies in the US:
On one point, however, experts agree: when it comes to teenage births, the United States is backsliding. Between 1991 and 2005 the teenage birth rate declined by 34%, according to the National Centre for Health Statistics. Between 2005 and 2007, the last year for which statistics are available, it crept up 5%.
A quick and easy blame game points to the Bush era abstinence-only policy, which is scientifically proven to fail.
But those working on the issue of teen pregnancy know it’s more complicated than that. Access to sex education and birth control are key to preventing teen pregnancies–but not all teen’s want to prevent their pregnancies. Some want to be parents, despite their young age.
Silvia Henriquez, the ED of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (disclosure: I work for them), is quoted in the article:
Latina teenagers, for example, have a considerably higher birth rate than any other group, even though they have similar rates of sexual activity. Silvia Henriquez, the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, reckons that access is the problem. Latina teenagers are less likely to have health-care coverage for contraceptives, and are more likely to lack transport to the free clinics in their cities.
For some Latina teens (and others), parenting may actually be a choice. Now often it’s a choice that is couched within the context of little hope for their own future–why “wait” to parent if you don’t have access to college education or real career options? The same can be said of other groups, but Latinas are focused on because of our particularly high rates of teen parenting.
I don’t think being young makes you a bad parent. It does mean you’re less likely to make money in a society that rewards high levels of education and long working hours.
For me, an ideal strategy to address teen pregnancy and parenting is a situation where young folks are given access to education, birth control, but also support if they do decide to parent at a young age.