Pregnancy centers, schools and various organizations have attempted to combat unplanned teenage pregnancies for years, and while numbers have decreased, the levels are still too high.
A recent press release issued by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention reported a decrease in pregnancy rates for teenage girls ages 15-19 — a 30-year low for the state. New data shows there were 217 fewer pregnancies among North Carolina teenage girls in 2008 than in 2007.
Many have different speculations for the drop in numbers.
“I think that age group (15-19) has been around people who have had babies out of wedlock and realized that’s a big responsibility,” said Mimi Every, executive director of Pregnancy Support Services in Durham, N.C. “Single parenting is difficult, especially when you’re young.”
There are dozens of pregnancy centers in North Carolina that provide services to teen girls in various predicaments, answering questions, offering testing and guiding them through their pregnancies.
Pregnancy Support Services helps teen girls who are pregnant or think they are pregnant. The organization offers free STD testing and pregnancy tests for young women, and also lends support for pregnant mothers throughout their pregnancies.
Many counties across the state have also taken initiatives to decrease teen pregnancy rates. Chatham County established Plain Talk, a program designed to instruct adults on encouraging teenagers in both health and responsibility. Chatham County has experienced a 26.3 percent drop in the teen pregnancy rate.
According to the APP press release, teen pregnancies in North Carolina have continued to decrease since 1991 after a spike in the late 1980s. The controversial practice of abortions has also decreased in North Carolina.
“I think people are becoming more aware that having an abortion is taking a life,” Every said. “There’s a lot more information out there about abortions and the potential risks.”
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services compiled data showing 58.6 of every 1,000 teen girls became pregnant in 2008. Though pregnancy rates have shown an overall decrease in the U.S., the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies advocates that the levels are still too high.
“North Carolina has been smart to leverage investments from the General Assembly and the Centers for Disease Control to bring proven pregnancy prevention strategies to North Carolina,” said Kay Phillips, executive director of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina, in the press release. “This new data shows that we are headed in the right direction, and that we must keep pressing forward so that more communities can benefit from these tools.”