Rural America has a teen pregnancy problem
By Laura Sessions Stepp, Special to CNN
CNN Editor’s note: Laura Sessions Stepp is senior media fellow at the National Campaign To Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, formerly with The Washington Post, who specializes in the coverage of young people. She has written two books: “Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both” and “Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children through Early Adolescence.”
(CNN) — We have a rosy view of rural America as a place where people wave even if they don’t know you, and life isn’t affected by what we think of as city problems. So it might come as a surprise that teenage girls 15 to 19 years old in rural counties have babies at rates that are nearly one third higher than girls in the cities and suburbs.
Several major cities are succeeding in lowering teenage birth rates. In New York City, for example, teen pregnancy declined 27% between 2001 and 2010, according to data from the New York City Health Department. It’s time for more notice to be paid to teens in rural America.
A study recently released by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy showed that the birth rate of girls in rural counties in 2010 — the latest available data — was almost 33% higher than in the rest of the country. It’s not for the reasons many people might think, according to my colleague, Kelleen Kaye, senior research director at The National Campaign.
What’s not true, she says, according to an analysis of federal data, is what we often hear: Rural teens are more likely than other teens to have sex with older men, or at younger ages, or get married younger. What is true is that they lack health clinics that are easily accessible and that offer contraception as well as counseling. Their parents may not have health insurance that makes birth control affordable. Abortion providers may be hard to find.
“Teens in general are more similar than they are different, but their resources may be different,” says Kaye, who grew up in a small town in Iowa.
To read the full article, please click here: http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/27/opinion/stepp-teenage-pregancies
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