6 Things People Get Wrong About Teen Pregnancy

African American Teenage couple on beach

As the son of a teen mother I saw firsthand what it was like to be a parent learning on-the-go and dealing with the pressures of a society that isn’t too kind to teen parents, particularly young Black mothers. The shame, secrecy, joy and fear can be detrimental to the psyche of a young girl learning to be a woman on the fly.

READ: #WeSeeYou:  As A Pregnant Teen They Told Her She’d Never Graduate. She’s Now Dr. Jones!

Our Black children’s brains are still developing and maturing while another life’s doing the exact same thing in the womb. Caring for another  life when your life isn’t firmly rooted is a scary thing. It’s hard being a teen parent.

As a teacher I’ve witnessed countless students grapple with the choice of staying home and being a full-time parent, or turning in a research paper worth 50 points, with no definite guarantee that education will pay off. The battles of going to school, working part or full-time and the absence or presence of a supportive partner leave a lot of choices for our Black youth who just had to ask,  “Can I go outside?” less than a year. Despite the challenges there is hope.

Here we dispel some of the most common myths about teen pregnancy.

Everybody is having babies left and right!

Teen pregnancy rates have been declining for the past 20 years according to statistics. Pregnancy rates are at an all-time low for the first time in 30 years according to the Guttmacher Institute study. The report also pointed out that the pregnancy rate in Black women ages 15-19 dropped 56 percent.

Black girls have the highest pregnancy rate.

A common belief is that Black teenage moms have the highest rates of pregnancy amongst all races, but this is false. Hispanic teenage mothers have the highest pregnancy rates in comparison to White and Black teenage moms, cites data from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In 2014, Hispanic adolescent females ages 15-19 had the highest birth rate (38 births per 1,000 adolescent females), followed by black adolescent females (34.9 births per 1,000 adolescent females) and white adolescent females (17.3 births per 1,000 adolescent females).

According to a survey published in 2014 by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, non-hispanic Black teens’ sexual behavior and contraceptive use have improved significantly since 1991.