TEEN PREGNANCY PREVENTION
Nakisha Floyd, Abstinence Education Consultant
To provide age appropriate, medically accurate HIV/STD and teen pregnancy prevention education to all school-age children with an emphasis on minority populations whom are disproportional impacted, through a collaboration of the Department of Public Instruction, local school systems, higher education, state and local health departments, and community-based organizations.
North Carolina is consistently ranked ninth in the nation for teen pregnancy rates and continue to hold steady, with 2007 state rates nearly the same as those over the previous three years. The four-year plateau follows a 13-year decline that resulted in the state's lowest ever rates in 2003. The state's adolescent pregnancy rate has declined by 36% since 1992. The 2007 pregnancy rate for teen’s ages 15 through 19 was 63.0/1,000, a 0.1% decrease from 2006. The total number of NC teens aged 15 to 19 who were pregnant in 2007 was 20,019. Nearly 29% of those were repeat pregnancies. The number of 10 to14 year-olds who were pregnant in 2007 was 404.
Among minority populations, Hispanic teens had the highest pregnancy rate, although their rate has dropped nearly 7% since 2003. The 2007 pregnancy rate among Hispanic adolescents in the state was 167.4/1,000 girls aged 15 to 19, a 5.7% decrease from 2006. Black teens had pregnancy rate of 87.1/1,000, a 0.9% increase from 2006. The number of pregnancies among American Indian teens and other minority groups was too low to calculate reliable rates. The disparity between white and minority teen pregnancy rates has narrowed since 1992, when the minority teen pregnancy rate was two times higher than the white rate. In 2007, the minority teen pregnancy rate was twice that of white teens.
Unplanned pregnancies during the teen years have long been associated with a host of critical social issues, including poverty and overall child well-being, out-of-wedlock births, workforce readiness, and responsible fatherhood. After increasing 24% between 1986 and 1991, the teen birth rate for girls aged 15-19 declined 35% between 1991 and 2005 (National Center for Health Statistics, 2005). During the same time period, official child poverty rates fell by 23 percent and percentage of children living with a single mother declined for the first time in decades. The report also showed that the decrease in the teen birth rate accounts for 26 percent of the reduction in the number of children under age six living in poverty between 1995 and 2002. In fiscal year 2004, teen pregnancy cost North Carolinians $312 million in WIC, Medicaid, TANF and food stamps (Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy). Interrupting this cycle of poverty and disadvantage is a critical social priority, and helping young women and men avoid early pregnancy is easier and much more cost effective than dealing with all of the problems that occur after their babies are born.
GUIDELINES FOR HIV/STD AND TEEN PREGNANCY PREVENTION
In North Carolina HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy prevention education teaches that the expected standard for all school age children is Abstinence Until Marriage. However, according to General Statute (G.S.) 115C-81 Basic Education and the North Carolina Healthful Living Standard Course of Study, the effectiveness and failure rates of condoms and other birth control methods must be taught in the seventh and eighth grades respectively.
Instruction in the use of and/or demonstration of condoms is a part of a comprehensive sexuality education program. Before a comprehensive sexuality education program is adopted, the local board of education shall conduct a public hearing and make all instructional materials available for review by parents or legal guardians for at least 30 days before the public hearing and 30 days after the hearing.
Each school year, before students may participate in any portion of an HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy prevention education program, the local boards of education shall adopt policies to provide opportunities either for parents and legal guardians to consent or for parents and legal guardians to withhold their consent to the students’ participation in any or all of these programs.