Oklahoma's teen birth rate 5th in nation
BY GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
9/15/10 at 6:12 PM
The number of teen girls giving birth in Oklahoma in 2008 was more than double the number of female freshmen entering the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University that fall semester, according to a recent data analysis.
Oklahoma’s teen birth rates rose between 2005 and 2007, moving up a notch to the 5th highest in the country, according to the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.
The nonprofit organization has been analyzing data released by the National Vital Statistics earlier this year to breakdown and compare rates and numbers to other states, said Sharon Rodine, director of youth initiatives for the group.
“This is 100 percent preventable,” Rodine said. “Oklahoma is not doing much at all to address teen pregnancy in any area. Other states are getting there, especially in southern states. This is not a race we want to win.”
The largest increase is among Oklahoma’s 18- to 19-year-olds, which jumped from the 6th highest pregnancy rate for that age group to 2nd, behind Mississippi.
Oklahoma’s rate is 111.5 births per 1,000 in that age range, compared to the national rate of 73.9.
The birth rate for 15- to 17-year-olds remains the 6th highest in the country at 30.4 births per 1,000. The national rate is 22.1.
“We have twice as many teens giving birth than incoming freshmen at our two major flagship universities,” Rodine said. “That alone shows you we are headed in the wrong direction. It’s a magnet issue. It links to so many other issues.
“This is a direct path to high school drop outs, a direct path to unemployment and a direct path to poverty. This is not Oklahoma’s path to prosperity.”
Read more in Thursday's Tulsa World.
Pregnant teen, Kelly, sits in front of students at Glenpool High School as students from the Margaret Hudson program talk about pregnancy in this photo taken in 2003. Tulsa World file