Teen Pregnancy in Rural United States
Focus: Vermilion Parish, Louisiana

Required Readings:

1. A Qualitative Evaluation of the Students of Service (SOS) Program for Sexual Abstinence in Louisiana

2. Today’s Pregnancy Teen. How can Health Care Professionals Combat this Prevalent Pandemic?

3. Sexual Health Statistics for Teenagers and Young Adults in the United States

Suggested Readings:

1. An Overview of Adolescent Pregnancy in Rural Areas

2. American Opinion on Teen Pregnancy and Related Issues 2007

Lecture Notes:

I. Definition and Statistics
a. The topic of teen pregnancy refers to the number of live
births to mothers ages 15-19
b. About 1/3 of girls will become pregnant before age 20
c. In 2006, a total of 435,427 infants were born to mothers aged
15–19 years, a birth rate of 41.9 per 1,000 women in this age group
d. The United States continues to have the highest percentage of
unintended teen pregnancies of any developed nation

II. Characteristics
a. Teen childbearing costs the United States at least $9.1 billion per year
b. 47% of teens say that their parents are the greatest influence on their decisions about sex
c. The majority of adults and teens feel that abstinence should be the message given in schools
d. About half of teens (48%) say they have never thought about what their life would be like if they got/ got someone pregnant as a teen

III. Rural Louisiana’s approach to preventing teen pregnancy
a. In 1996 Louisiana ranked 42nd among 50 states for teen births, with 67 teen births per 1,000 females aged 15-19 compared to 54 nationally
b. In Louisiana state law prohibits contraceptive education in schools and only abstinence can be promoted
c. Students of Service (SOS) program was initiated in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana
i. Randomly selected seventh, eighth and ninth grade classes
ii. Volunteer peer mentors were selected and trained by an on site social worker and school counselor in monthly training sessions prior to each classroom implementation
iii. Abstinence only was taught by these peer mentor groups
iv. Results of the study showed that the abstinence only education did not impact the number of pregnant teens in Vermilion Parish

IV. Risk Factors
a. Children of teen mothers are more likely to face greater challenges
i. Earn less money
ii. Have lower level of education
iii. Suffer higher rates of child abuse and neglect
iv. Grow up poor
v. Live in Single-Parent Households
vi. Enter the Child Welfare System
vii. Be teen parents themselves

V. Health Problems
a. One quarter of all sexually active high school students report using drugs or alcohol during their last sexual encounter
b. Nearly one in 10 high school students report having experienced dating violence (9%) or having been physically forced to have sexual intercourse in their lifetime (8%)
c. Approximately one in four sexually active young adults ages 15 to 24 contracts an STD each year
d. Lack of access to health care for teens is a problem for both the teenage mother and her baby
i. lack of health insurance
ii. lack of transportation to and from appointments
iii. fear about seeking care

VI. Interventions
a. Teens who have higher educational aspirations are more likely to delay onset of sexual activity and/or use contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancies
b. Health educators should continue efforts to bring age appropriate sexuality education to students at least at the beginning of middle school
c. Many programs exist in attempt to prevent teen pregnancy although each state has its own rules and regulations regarding which information may be taught in school
d. It is vitally important that parents understand that they play a large role in the decisions that their children will make regarding sexual behavior

Please answer these questions using the readings and lecture notes above.

Discussion Questions:

1. After reading the above articles, which type of sex education program do you think is most appropriate for rural teens?
2. Should the education differ from that of urban teens? Why or why not? If so, how should the education be tailored to meet the needs of the rural teen?