There is good news and bad news regarding teen pregnancy rates over the last two decades, and the good news is that the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S., which is the highest in the industrialized world has dropped over the last two decades.
According to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy the bad news is that the teen pregnancy rate is one-third higher in rural counties across the nation, including suburban and urban areas. There is a prevalence of unplanned pregnancy in 18- and 19-year-olds.
According to the campaign about 48 percent of teens are having sex.
The state of Kansas teen pregnancy rate remains high and has been consistently high over generations and decades according to the Center for Disease Control and The National Campaign. The rates are consistently higher in the southeast and south portions of the U.S., and lower in the north and northeast. Approximately three in 10 girls get pregnant by age 20.
“A lot of people believe teen pregnancy in rural areas is not as high as urban,” said Janel Rose, Barton County Health department. “It is one-third higher in rural counties regardless of age, race or ethnicity.”
She attributes this to economic opportunity and service availability.
“It’s not lack of knowledge-teens know the basic facts,” Rose said. “But teens tend to believe friends and myths,” such as “can’t get pregnant the first time.”
“Parents need to talk to teens and need to be very open and honest,” she said. “Teens don’t always make decisions we wish they would.
“Poverty is one of the key underlying issues,” she added. “Make sure girls have goals that make them they have a chance for a better life.”
She encouraged teens and parents to go to www.thenationalcampaign.org and take the teen quiz. May 1 is the 12th National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment released the 2011 statistics for teen pregnancy in Kansas, and, Barton County, unlike the remainder of the state and nation is showing an upward trend.
There were a total of 54 teen pregnancies in Barton County with one still birth and four abortions for 2011. In 2010, there were 51 teen pregnancies.
Barton County now ranks 13th in the state in the rate per 1,000 teens, ages 10-19.