A disturbing trend that has plagued South Carolina teens for years may finally be taking a positive turn as births among teens have hit an all-time low in the state. After experiencing an increase in teen birth rates from 2005 through 2007, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reports that the 15-19 year-old teen birth rate in the state decreased by 7.5 percent to 49 per 1,000 from 2008-2009. This is the lowest level in state history.
Forrest Alton, CEO of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy says while the news is great, he views the latest figures with guarded optimism. South Carolina’s teen birth rate is still 11th highest in the nation.
Alton says it is encouraging to see more South Carolina teens becoming career and goal-oriented with a greater focus on education and the future, rather than getting involved in risky behaviors that could lead to an unwanted pregnancy. Alton says it is important that parents, educators and community leaders continue to encourage teens to work toward becoming productive, responsible citizens.
Alton says while teen birth rates are higher among minorities, the overall problem knows no racial, economic, or social bounds. The national teen birth rate, 39.1 per 1,000, remains as much as nine times higher than in other developed countries.
Alton says over the next 15 months the South Carolina Campaign will be giving almost $2 million to local communities for programs aimed at further reducing teen pregnancy rates in the state. Alton says there is no doubt that frank discussions about responsible sexual behavior begin at home. However, it is important the message be consistent among all community leaders, organizations, and institutions.
Alton says he understands that there is a moral component involved in educating youngsters about responsible sexual behavior and that abstinence is the best choice for teens, but any frank, open discussions about responsible sexual behavior should include methods of contraception.