Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oklahoma No. 6 in Teen Pregnancy Rate

New figures out today from the Centers for Disease Control show that teen pregnancy rates have increased in 26 states, including Oklahoma.

While Mississippi leads the nation with 68.4 teen births per 1,000, Oklahoma comes in sixth with a rate of 59.6 per 1,000 births. The CDC numbers are from 2006.

Here is a national summary from the AP:
ATLANTA -- Mississippi now has the nation's highest teen pregnancy rate, displacing Texas and New Mexico for that lamentable title, according to a new federal report released Wednesday.

Mississippi's rate was more than 60 percent higher than the national average in 2006, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The teen pregnancy rate in Texas and New Mexico was more than 50 percent higher.

The three states have large proportions of black and Hispanic teenagers - groups that traditionally have higher birth rates, experts noted.

The lowest teen birth rates continue to be in New England, where three states have teen birth rates at just half the national average.


More than a year ago, a preliminary report on the 2006 data revealed that the U.S. teen birth rate had risen for the first time in about 15 years. But the new numbers provide the first state-by-state information on the increase.

The new report is based on a review of all the birth certificates in 2006. Significant increases in teen birth rates were noted in 26 states.


Numerically, the largest increases were in the states with the largest populations. California, Texas and Florida together generated almost 30 percent of the nation's extra teen births in 2006.

Some experts have blamed the national increase on increased federal funding for abstinence-only health education that does not teach teens how to use condoms and other contraception. They said that would explain why teen birth rate increases have been detected across much of the country and not just in a few spots.

There is debate about that, however. Some conservative organizations have argued that contraceptive-focused sex education is still common, and that the new teen birth numbers reflect it is failing.

UPDATE: A reporter for ABC News’s Jackson, Mississippi, affiliate explained the rise in the teen birth rate in the state: “The Mississippi Department of Human Services says abstinence is the only birth control that is 100 percent effective. And that’s the only message teens need to hear.” Unfortunately, numerous studies show that abstinence-only education is not effective.

UPDATE 2: Some bloggers have noted this obvious but interesting point: The states with the highest teen pregnancy rates are mostly Red States, a list that includes Texas and Oklahoma


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Jennifer said...

I live in OK and became unexpectantly pregnant at 19. (I know that's not extremely young, but still, fresh out of high school young.) Jobs weren't available in my town, and my 7 member family couldn't provide a car for me so that I could really have private access to contraceptives. I was put down by my parents by makeup, clothes, and my music alone, so relations of any kind with boys was not a subject I could even really take to my mom without fear of getting sent off to some kind of boot camp. This is no exaggeration. I was afraid to have a connection like that with a guy for fear of shame, so when it happened it was an intoxicated thing, totally unplanned fling, where I happened to be ovulating obviously. I was the type of girl my friends called a prude. The bottom line is I was sheltered and naive. I feel that if I had experienced a less conservative upbringing, I would have been better prepared for the act, and could have delayed something that affected my ability to go to college. I had to get a full time job and support myself and my daughter solely, without contact or support of the father. I think there are lots of others like me around here. It's pretty sad. I'm not saying at all that I am not in love with my daughter, I wouldn't trade her for the world.

With my public education, I received 3 seminars about sex education. I think it was effective in its purpose, but would have been more effective paired with better support from my parents. I don't think schools or parents are promoting or condoning teen sex by educating them about it at all. Just as the absence of parental support can be a factor in a teen failing or dropping out of school, it is just as responsible for kids having risky sex. There is more availability to sex to them than there is to drugs in most cases, so they might as well have sex awareness be as emphasized as drug awareness.

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