The United States has had several scary times when looking at teenage pregnancy statistics. If you were age 15-19 and female, there are several time periods where you would be at a much higher risk for becoming a parent. Teen pregnancy statistics in the US have risen and changed drastically several times.
3 Times America Watched Teenage Pregnancy Statistics Become Scary
I’ve taken a look at some statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, which reports regularly on public policy in the US. There are three key time periods in US history where teenage pregnancy rates changed drastically.
A Look At Teen Pregnancy In The 1950’s
In the 1950’s, teen pregnancy numbers were very high averaging at 96 births for every 1000 girls age 15-19. All of the famous movies such as Grease which showed teens driving around in cars and acting wild were no joke. Teens were not just drinking milkshakes and dancing in poodle skirts, there were many babies made during that time. Many people think back on the 1950’s as a period of innocence, but it was also a time of naivety. This was also the end of World War II, and the Baby Boomer era was born. Teenage pregnancy was also considered more of a social problem rather then and education or health issue at this time.
A Look At Teen Pregnancy in the 1970’s
In the mid-1970’s according to Prospect.org, the Guttamacher Institue published some of the first detailed statistics on adolescent fertility. They made a sweeping statement saying there were a million pregnant teenagers a year and included both married and unmarried women in the statistics on pregnancy for ages 15-19. Congress began taking a look at adolescent health through a series of hearings, and many of the expert witnesses cited Guttamacher’s statistics. Teenage pregnancy was starting to be seen as an epidemic, and through both federal and state task force programs the number of pregnancies began to drop and stabilize.
A Look At Teen Pregnancy In 1990’s
The birthrate in the nineties climbed and was sitting at a national average of 68.1 births for every 1000 teens that are age 15-19. That number can be hard to visualize so we can take it one step further. Let’s imagine you are in a very small High School in 1991 that only has 100 girls. That would mean statistically 7 of the girls in that high school would have become pregnant that year. During the 1990’s more key educations programs were put into place, especially through the Bill Clinton era. Several studies increase that both an increase in abstinence education and increase in contraceptive education seem to have cause behavior changes in teens that were sexually active. This means because of education, more teens were abstaining or using contraceptives (particularly more reliable methods of contraception) and the birth rates dropped.
Here’s the reality when it comes to teenage pregnancy statistics over time. Even our current teenage pregnancy statistics does not match up in comparison to other first world countries. Over the course of our history, we have often treated teenage pregnancy itself as a problem. Perhaps we can find a way to support teenagers before they become pregnant through education to help ensure we continue to see teenage pregnancy statistics on the decline.
Readers, what do you think was the scariest point in history for teenage pregnancy in the US?
Image Credit: Le Portillon