Government Says Teen Births Down

Catholic Daily News Briefs [MAY. 01, 1998]

WASHINGTON, DC ( - The US government said on Thursday that fewer teenagers are having babies because they are having less sex and using more birth control.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala emphasized that the birth rate in minority groups had the largest drop. "The African-American community has done a wonderful job with their own young people," she said. "Their strategy of parents, community leaders, religious leaders and schools all sending the same consistent message that young blacks are cutting off their future if they have children is working."

Black teen birth rates fell by 21 percent between 1991 and 1996. In 1996, 9.2 percent of black teenage girls gave birth, the lowest since the government began keeping that statistic. Hispanic teens are now most likely to give birth, though their rates also fell, from 10.7 percent in 1995 to 10.2 percent in 1996, the first significant drop since 1991. In 1995, the latest year available for non-Hispanic whites, 3.9 percent of those teens had babies. In 1996, there was about one birth for every 20 girls ages 15 to 19, down 11.9 percent since 1991, according to the analysis released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. Most teen mothers are 18 or 19, but the rates dropped most dramatically among girls 15 to 17.

In 1995, sexual activity among American teens dropped for the first time since the government began tracking information in 1970. Fifty percent of girls had sex in 1995, down from 55 percent in 1990. The rate for boys dropped from 60 percent in 1988 to 55 percent in 1995.

Editor's Note: Now on the one hand, it is exceptionally good news that the pregnancy rates are dropping. Note also that the pregnancy rates are dropping because of declining sexual activity, not because of contraceptive success.I find it ironic that government agencies are taking the credit for what is after all,a resurgence of good sense and virtue, things that are not and never have been subject to government influence.

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