Teen pregnancy in Georgia

Good sign: teen birth rate declining

By Jane Fonda, Melissa Kottke and Kim M. Nolte

Public health professionals, educators, clinicians, parents and the community cheered recently when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new teen birth data for 2012. The teen birth rate is declining dramatically in Georgia.

In fact, in just one year (2011-2012), Georgia saw an impressive decline of 12 percent, the second-highest decline in the country and the highest decline our state has ever seen. The state’s teen birth rate has plummeted more than 50 percent since 1995.

Bottom line: Fewer teens are having sex, and for those who are, there’s a sharp increase in the use of contraceptives, thanks to the hard work several organizations do to keep the issue front and center.

All of us should be excited about this news for several reasons. Teen childbearing costs Georgia taxpayers more than $465 million each year. It is the No. 1 reason girls drop out of high school; only 2 percent of teen mothers graduate from college. In addition, teen births are closely tied to intergenerational poverty, higher rates of incarceration of boys born to teen mothers, and increased rates of child abuse and neglect.

Reducing the teen birth rate makes a difference for our children, families, economy and society. We should be pleased because, collectively, we have been working toward this outcome. It is rewarding to see how effective teen pregnancy prevention programs and clinical practices can work synergistically to achieve critical goals.

Now is not the time to rest on our laurels. We are not done yet solving teen pregnancy in Georgia. In 2012, nearly 13,000 teen girls in our state became teen mothers; that’s 35 each day. One in four of these births were to teens who were already mothers. Georgia has one of the highest rate of repeat births to teens in the U.S. These families barely have a chance of getting out of, and staying out of, poverty.

Preventing teen pregnancy is complex but has been identified as a “winnable battle” by the CDC. It is going to take us all working together. One new model, the Georgia Public-Private Partnership (P3), is trying just that.

P3, whose partners include nonprofits, professional associations, universities, the Georgia departments of public health, education and juvenile justice and the Division of Family and Children Services, is a collective impact model to strengthen and align the efforts of agencies and organizations throughout the state that are working to decrease teen pregnancy. Its aim is to ensure young people have access to effective teen pregnancy prevention programs, clinical care that is teen-friendly, and supportive environments to make these things possible.

Together, we can accelerate the reduction of teen births in this state and serve as a national model for how to work collaboratively on an issue that many see as intractable, but that we see as having possible solutions. Teen pregnancy prevention has significant game-changing potential for young people that cannot be denied, and all of us are better for it.

Jane Fonda is founder of the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential (GCAPP). Melissa Kottke, M.D., is director of the Jane Fonda Center at Emory University. Kim M. Nolte is vice president of programs and training at GCAPP.

4 comments Add your comment

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

March 29th, 2014
9:20 am

God Almighty created the womb-man, female, to bear children. If Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had created males to bear children, pregnancy, I would say if he can’t contain himself, he should marry. The emphasis is on the female because it is her body that goes through 9 months of challenges.

When we are talking about preventing teenage pregnancy, we are talking girls, females. There is no sexism or bigotry here.

Amen?

That's right I said it

March 28th, 2014
9:10 pm

I think young women in this state are finally deciding to close their legs to sexist bigots, which really thins out prospects.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

March 28th, 2014
5:55 pm

The Bible teaches us that abstinence is the prevention technique for teen pregnancy. Another technique given to us is to have the teen marry if she can’t contain herself. This technique should be taught by parents and respective churches early in the lives of our children.

The Biblical teaching is clearly an attempt to aid the youthful spirits in coming to their senses. The hope is that teenagers realize that copulation is not worth getting married, and their preparation for marriage is non-existent. And in the end of it all, abstain.

Amen?

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

March 28th, 2014
5:29 pm

I am concerned about some of the language Jane Fonda, Melissa Kottke, and Kim M. Nolte used in this article. What does “…its aim is to ensure young people have access to effective teen pregnancy prevention programs, clinical care that is teen-friendly, and supportive environments to make these things possible.”

If it means creating an environment that absolves teens after murdering their child via abortion, and by deduction, abortion is calculated in the equation of the declining teen birth rate, then they have defeated their purpose. They have effectively taken 6 steps forward in preventing teen pregnancy and 660 steps backwards.

Amen?