Teen Pregnancies Down, Way Down

Source: Virginia Health Equity Report 2008
Source: Virginia Health Equity Report 2008

Here’s the best news you’re likely to read all day, maybe all week: Mirroring national trends, the number of teen pregnancies in the City of Richmond has dropped from 1,024 a decade ago to 487 in 2012. The 2012 numbers represented “the lowest teen pregnancy rate in Richmond in decades,” Dr. Donald Stern, Richmond City Health District director, told the Times-Dispatch. 

If this trend is sustainable, it bodes well for the war on entrenched poverty, the ultimate origins of which are demographic in nature. Teen mothers who bear children are at higher risk of dropping out of school, earning sub-par lifelong wages and raising children without the father contributing financially — and often emotionally — to their well being.

As a consequence, poor families are disproportionately likely to be families with children, and children are disproportionately likely to be in poor families. Twenty-eight percent of all black children in Virginia lived in poverty in 2005, compared to only 19% for blacks of all ages. (The percentages undoubtedly are higher since the 2007-2008 recession.) The gap is not as pronounced for Hispanics, Asians and white but it exists for all groups.

When at-risk mothers have fewer children, fewer kids will grow up in poverty. Lower teen pregnancies also increase the odds that the mother will be able to work her way out of poverty.

City officials attribute the decline in teen pregnancy to teens having sex at a later age and to having better access to birth control when they do have sex. “Our youth are making wiser and and healthier choices,” said Stern.

I’m not sure why this change in culture is occurring — the officials quoted in the article credited the City of Richmond and various non-profit entities for helping bring it about — but I am very heartened by it. This phenomenon, if sustained, will do more to reduce poverty than anything governments or philanthropies possibly can do.


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One response to “Teen Pregnancies Down, Way Down”

  1. this despite the work of right-leaning folks to deny birth control to teens….

    there’s another big benefit – a lot less at-risk kids to educate….

    speaking of Conservatives, I hear that down in NC, they are going to set up rules for “virtual” Charter Schools – which I support not for the same reasons as those on the right – but because I think it has great promise if done right and it needs freedom from traditional school rules.

    It still needs to meet the same academic standards of performance, IMHO.

    and it’s not just “virtual” … kids need to have tablets…that can download lessons and exercises and upload how each kid did on the lessons and exercises. You want the kid to be able to take that tablet and do their work regardless whether they have access to internet all the time.

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