Wednesday, January 22, 2014
South Carolina’s teen birth rate has reached an all-time low thanks to great progress over the past 20 years.
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the state’s teen birth rate has fallen 47 percent from 1992-2012. From 2011 to 2012, the teen birth rate declined by 7 percent, now standing at 36.5 births per 1,000 girls age 15-19.
The SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy attributes teens and those who work with teens for this progress, but says that this is a complex issue with no single reason for the decline.
Experts suggest a number of reasons for this great decline, but four main ideas seem to emerge as most likely:
1. Teens making responsible decisions. Teens today are choosing abstinence at a higher frequency, and if they do have sex, are using contraceptives more consistently than they did 20 years ago.
2. Social norms around teen pregnancy have shifted. Teen pregnancy is seen as a key issue in South Carolina; in a recent statewide survey, 95 percent of those polled agree that teen pregnancy is an important issue, and eight in 10 support school-based sexuality education that includes messages about abstinence and contraception.
3. More attention and education given to the most effective forms of birth control, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC).
More health centers are now teen friendly and promoting LARC as the most effective form of birth control.
4. Greater emphasis on best practices. More public schools are implementing evidence-based programs and more efforts are focusing on 18-19 year olds who account for 73 percent of all teen births in South Carolina.
For more information and county specific teen birth data, please visit www.teenpregnancysc.org and join the SC Campaign on Jan. 23 for a free webinar to learn more about the data, what it means on the county level, and how to use it in your community.