The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that teen pregnancy rates have dropped for the first time in three years, but teen pregnancy is still a major concern.
According to MSNBC, using the numbers compiled from the 2008 data for 15-19-year-olds, there are 41.5 pregnancies per 1,000. That is still a whopping 4.15 percent. Teenage birth rates vary from state to state. For example, Ohio is at 4.10, percent which runs parallel with the national average. See where your state ranks.
How Can We Reduce Teen Pregnancies?
By no means is helping lower the rate of teenage pregnancy a proven science, but there are things we can do to make small strides in helping teenagers be aware of the results of their actions.
Educate, Educate, Educate!
It isn’t just a coincidence that a lot of the states with higher teen pregnancy rates are the same states that are below average on education. It might seem like a prehistoric trick, but the truth is education and the repetition of it work. The more schools, parents, churches, teen groups and the media educate teenagers on teenage pregnancy, the fewer there will be.
Get Teenagers Involved and Help Them Create Goals.
This especially rings true for female athletes. On the whole, teenage female athletes wait longer to have sex and do so with fewer partners. They are more cautious about getting pregnant because they have something to strive for, and getting pregnant would take that away from them. Even teenagers who are not involved in sports but are involved in other school and out-of-school groups are less likely to become teenage parents. Help your teenager create goals in life for the immediate future and beyond. Take an active role in helping him or her achieve these goals. Show pride in them, and they will care more about themselves too.
Scare them with the Truth.
It might sound a little harsh to say scare a teenager, but teenagers have no clue what they are getting into when bringing a baby into this world. To further that point, most parents aren’t fully prepared for a baby when they have one. The responsibilities financially, emotionally and mentally are more than what most people realize before they are in that situation. Multiply that by ten, and that is how much harder it is to handle for even the most prepared and mature teenage parent. Teenagers don’t realize the enormous cost of raising a child, or the full responsibility of taking care of that child every single moment. They need to be fed the truth on what it costs to raise a baby. Part of sex education needs to include having them take the salary from a job that they can get right away without further education, and seeing how hard it would be to raise a baby on that. Let them see that working fast food for 40 hours a week is a hard way to pay for rent, utilities, food, clothing and childcare.
Maybe the best truth of all would be having teenagers take care of a baby for a week, with adult supervision for the safety of the baby involved, of course. Can you imagine how much more careful teenagers would be if they really knew what it took to take of a baby?
MSNBC “Teen regnancy rates dip, but vary widely by state” by Joesph Brownstein