We are no longer No. 1. Usually, we want to be No.1, however when speaking about teen pregnancy that is not the case.
The birth rate to adolescents has gone down, but Oklahoma’s numbers are still too high. We are third in the U.S. with a birth rate of 29.7 per 1,000 births, leaving more young women having babies than the national average of 18.8.
Sadly, minority adolescents are disproportionately affected by teen pregnancy; American Indian and Alaskan Native females have the highest chance of becoming pregnant, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So, how much does teen pregnancy cost the U.S.?
On average, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, every child born to an adolescent costs the U.S. $16,000 to provide financial and medical support throughout pregnancy and the child’s first year of life.
Adolescent mothers are less likely to finish high school, leading them to be less likely to gain adequate employment to provide for their family.
Becoming a mother as an adolescent increases the chance of having depression, engaging in substance abuse and having post-traumatic stress disorder.
What do the outcomes for the children look like? These children are entering kindergarten unprepared and are continuing to have lower scores in math and reading through the 8th grade.
Who is responsible for educating our teens on sexual health? Parents? Schools?
Schools in Oklahoma are not mandated to teach sexual health. We need to do better for our children.
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