When your kids enter their teen years, it’s an exciting milestone in their lives–and in your life as a parent. Exciting as it may be, the adolescent years also bring more than a few worries, and not the least of these is teen pregnancy.
Although I can’t promise that an unexpected pregnancy will never affect your family, what I can do is arm you with facts about teen pregnancy and its effects. Let this information guide your talks with your kids.
Teen Pregnancy in the United States
In 2015, 22.3 out of every 1,000 girls between the ages of 15 through 19 gave birth. The total number of infants born to those mothers was 229,715.
- Over 88 percent of teen parents are unmarried.
- 3 out of every 10 girls have at least one pregnancy before their 20th birthday.
- Before their baby’s second birthday, about one-quarter of teen moms give birth again.
- In 2011, 13.5 of every 1,000 teen girls had an abortion.
- The United States has the highest teen birth rate of industrialized nations. American teens are 2.5 times more likely to give birth than Canadian teens and 10 times more likely than Swiss teens.
Demographics of Teen Pregnancy
- Most teen mothers–73 percent of them–are 18 or 19 years old.
- 2,503 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 gave birth in the U.S. in 2015.
- In 2015, 9.9 of every 1,000 American girls between the ages of 15 to 17 gave birth. That totaled 61,223 births.
- In 2015, 35 out of every 1,000 Hispanic girls had babies.
- That same year, 32 of every non-Hispanic black teenage girls gave birth.
- The statistic for white non-Hispanic teens was 16 out of every 1,000 girls.
- For American Indian and Alaskan Native teens, it was 26 out of every 1,000.
- 7 of every 1,000 American teenage girls of Asian and Pacific Islander descent gave birth that year.
- In 2015, Massachusetts had the lowest teen birth rate. 9.4 of every 1,000 girls ages 15-19 gave birth.
- That same year, Arkansas’ rate of 38 births for every 1,000 teen girls was the highest in the nation.
Changes in Teen Pregnancy Rates
From 2007 to 2015, the teen birth rate in the U.S. fell 42 percent. 2015’s adolescent birth rate marked a record low.
The ethnic demographic with the greatest reduction was Hispanic teens. The age group that saw the largest decline was the 15-to-17 bracket.
Abortion rates have also fallen in recent years. By 2009, the rate had fallen to just under 17 of every 1,000 teen girls, down from over 40 of every 1,000 in 1988.
Therefore, the declining birth rate can be attributed to fewer teenage girls who engage in sexual intercourse and an increase in the percentage of sexually active teens who use birth control.
Sexual Activity Among Teens
In a 2015 study, over half of American high school students reported that they had not yet lost their virginity. 41 percent of the students said that they had engaged in sexual intercourse.
About 30 percent of high school students were currently sexually active.
In one study, almost 90 percent of sexually active teens reported that they had used some form of contraceptive during their most recent sexual encounter. However, pills and condoms are the most common forms of birth control among teens, and these have higher failure rates than other contraceptive options, such as intrauterine devices.
Risk Factors for Teen Pregnancy
Teenage girls are more likely to have a baby if they:
- Come from a single-parent home.
- Have a mother who was herself a teen parent.
- Live below the poverty level.
- Began using drugs or alcohol when they were young.
- Experience significant conflict at home.
However, there are also factors that reduce a teen’s risk for pregnancy:
- Having friends who use birth control.
- Having open discussions with parents about birth control.
- Being well-educated about sexual activity and sexually transmitted diseases.
- Having a good relationship with parents.
- Making a personal choice to abstain from or limit sexual activity.
Effects of Teen Pregnancy
Unfortunately, bearing children at an early age can have a host of negative impacts for those involved. It affects not just the teen parents and their children but also society at large.
On Teen Mothers
Girls who give birth during their teenage years often struggle to complete their education. By the time they turn 22, only about 50 percent of teen mothers have graduated from high school.
Only 2 percent of young teen moms–those who become mothers before age 18–graduate from college by their 30th birthday.
Over two-thirds of teen mothers who move out of their parents’ home have incomes that are below the national poverty level.
Teen parents, who have not themselves finished growing up, can have trouble equipping their children with important life skills. This can include social, emotional and cognitive skills.
Statistically, having a young parent has a negative effect on a child’s educational success. Kids born to teen mothers are 50 percent more likely to be held back a grade than their peers.
Furthermore, kids born to adolescent parents are more likely than other kids to be placed in foster care, go to jail or themselves have children during their teenage years.
Teen pregnancy places a financial burden on society. In 2010, this cost to taxpayers amounted to $9.4 billion or more.
Part of this is related to a loss of potential tax revenue from teen mothers or their children.
Plus, teen pregnancy brings with it direct costs for taxpayers. Many of these are related to the price of caring for children who are born to teen mothers, such as health care, foster care and incarceration costs.
Many teen mothers require public assistance. 63 percent of teenage moms claim some sort of government benefits during their child’s first year of life.
Yes, teen pregnancy is a significant concern. Please leave any questions on this topic in the comments. Remember the following:
- Despite falling rates of adolescent pregnancy, many teens become pregnant every year.
- Teens who use birth control are less likely to have a baby.
- Open communication with your children reduces their chances of having a baby.