Even though the number of teen Latinas has dropped in the past two decades, Latina and black girls are still twice as likely to become pregnant before the age of 19. But, why?
Unfortunately but not surprisingly, poverty and geography play big roles, which make total sense. Being poor means it is very likely you have less access to quality health care and contraceptive services, according to, Gail Wyatt, a clinical psychologist and sex researcher at UCLA. And, it’s often cyclical meaning “kids are having kids.” Teen kids are often kids of teen parents themselves and are three times as likely to do so.
Now for the glass half full news.
Among all racial groups the numbers have been decreasing, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. In fact, overall teen birth rate has declined by 57%.
A breakdown of the numbers are as follows:
Teen birth rates among African-American girls declined 67 percent; among Latinas, it declined 60 percent, while among American Indian/Native Alaskans and Asian/Pacific Islanders, it declined 63 percent and 68 percent, respectively. Birth rates among white teens declined 57 percent during that time.
A huge contributing factor have been girls being more open to using birth control methods like the IUD and contraceptive implants, according to Bill Albert, the chief program office for the National Campaign.
Not to mention, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative spearheaded by the Obama administration which awards over millions in grants to programs to prevent teen pregnancy.
And, believe it or not, those TV reality stories like MTV’s 16 & Pregnant are actually helping drop the teen birth rate. Who knew?
One thing is for sure, while all of these programs and initiatives are helping get these young girls, the conversation still needs to take a serious shift because all too often they are bombarded with messages on whether or not to get pregnant at all instead of hearing about the benefits of avoiding early pregnancy.
Those messages can come off as “anti-family” or “anti-baby” which, if you think about it, can be daunting for a young girl.
But, as Albert from the National Campaign, stressed, “We haven’t done a good job as a nation about telling young people why we think it’s a good idea to delay pregnancy and parenthood.”