African-American and Latina girls are more than twice as likely as white girls to become pregnant before they leave adolescence, which continues to confound states.
By Teresa Wiltz
LaNita Harris of the Oklahoma City County Health Department explains two of the posters the department uses in its Teen Pregnancy Prevention program. Although teen pregnancy and birth rates have dropped the past two decades, states still face the reality that black and Latina teens are more than twice as likely as white teens to become pregnant. (AP)
It’s a problem once thought to be intractable, and yet pregnancy and birth rates for black and Latina teens have dropped precipitously in the past two decades—at a much faster clip than that of white teens.
Despite this, black and Latina girls are more than twice as likely as white girls to become pregnant before they leave adolescence.
This glass half-full, half-empty scenario is a dilemma that continues to confound states. The racial and ethnic disparities surrounding teen pregnancy are stubborn, often a cause and consequence of poverty and a complex array of societal factors.
Teen pregnancies are usually unplanned and come with a steep price tag, costing U.S. taxpayers up to $28 billion a year, according to the Office of Adolescent Health, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Some states like Mississippi have found innovative ways to tackle the problem by targeting specific populations, while others like Kansas are serving up bills that make it more difficult for teens to access sex education, which is a critical component of preventing pregnancy in adolescence, according to advocates such as the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Continue reading