Today is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy! A part of National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month (a tradition started in NC!), today is a day when we all get to celebrate our success stories, our partnerships, and the many organizations and people working to keep teens safe and give them the opportunity to become healthy adults.
Here are some quick facts about teen pregnancy in North Carolina, some reasons for celebration, and why the issue matters:
- Approximately 19,000 teens get pregnant in North Carolina each year.
- North Carolina has the 14th highest teen pregnancy rate in the US – 56 out of every 1,000 15-19 year old girls got pregnant in NC in 2009. The US has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world.
- We’ve made great progress: Our teen pregnancy rate has dropped almost 50% in the past two decades. Our highest recorded rate happened in 1991 – then it was 105.4 out of every 1,000 15-19 year old girls. The good, downward trend started years before NC passed its harmful abstinence-only-until-marriage law.
- 30% of teen pregnancies are repeat pregnancies. They happen to a girl who has already had at least one pregnancy.
- Our racial and ethnic disparities are huge! Our African-American teen pregnancy rate is 77% higher than our white rate. Our Latina teen pregnancy rate is 160% higher than out white rate.
Adolescent Sexual Health
- 98% of all adolescents will eventually become sexually active. The adolescent years are the right time to teach the skills necessary to be a sexually healthy person: tools for building healthy, respectful relationships; basic knowledge about sex and about how to prevent pregnancy, STDs and HIV; and communications skills for talking to parents, doctors, and partners about sexual health issues.
- In America, there are 11 years between the average age of sexual debut (when a teen first has sex) and the average age of marriage.
- In North Carolina, 68% of high school seniors have had sex. Almost 40% of them did not use a condom the last time they had sex.
- More than 30% of North Carolina 9th graders have had sex.
- Pregnancy prevention and education matters for both boys and girls.
- According to the CDC, more teens are waiting longer to have sex. This trend started in the 1980s. More teens are also using contraceptives. There is a strong correlation between increasing contraceptive use and declining teen pregnancy rates.
Why Prevention is Important
- The cost of adolescent childbearing to North Carolina taxpayers is more than $300 million each year.
- Getting pregnant is the number one reason girls drop out of school.
- A girl who has a baby before age 20 has less than a 2% chance of getting a college degree before age 20, harming her ability to build a solid career and develop a financially steady life for her and her child.
- North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate is approximately 50% lower than what it was at its highest point in 1991.
- The Healthy Youth Act means that North Carolina students finally have access to medically accurate, unbiased information on abstinence, STD/HIV prevention, contraception, and healthy relationships.
- North Carolina has wisely invested state dollars in evidence-based prevention programs. In addition, APPCNC has helped the state leverage more than $30 million in federal funds to help communities implement more evidence-based programs in the next 5 years.
- All of the methods for preventing pregnancy and STDs/HIV have gone up at the national level (no data for NC): abstinence, condom use, and contraceptive use have all increased in the past two decades.