South Carolina’s teen birth rate has declined more than 50 percent since the early nineties. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the state’s teen birth rate has fallen 54 percent from 1992-2013. This includes a substantial decrease between 2012 and 2013 when the teen birth rate declined by 13 percent. Declines over the last two decades have been most substantial among school-aged youth ages 15-17 whose teen birth rate has decreased by 68% since 1992.
“What has happened here in South Carolina over the last twenty-plus years is beyond extraordinary,” said Forrest Alton, South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (SC Campaign) CEO. “A decrease of this magnitude in the state’s teen birth rate in just one generation’s time truly ranks as one of our state’s greatest, yet untold, success stories. What’s happened among youth 15-17 is particularly amazing.”
While it is difficult to pinpoint a single reason for the decline, Alton and others at the SC Campaign are confident that statewide efforts to implement research-proven approaches, policy decisions that benefit young people, and the presence of a leadership organization like the SC Campaign are all having an impact. Specifically, two main reasons seem to emerge as most likely:
1. It is quite possible that our nation has reached a tipping point.
a. The vast majority of adults in South Carolina (95%) identify teen pregnancy as an important issue with 84% supporting sex education that emphasizes abstinence and teaches about contraception.
b. Young people are making better decisions. More teens are delaying sexual intercourse and those who are sexually active are using the most effective forms of birth control more consistently.
2. More attention and greater emphasis on best practices, and what works. Over time, the research on what works to prevent teen pregnancy continues to grow. There continues to be a greater emphasis from funders and communities on these programs and interventions with strong research on their effectiveness, including – implementation of evidence-based curriculum in schools, ensuring that sexually active youth have access to contraception, focusing efforts on youth most at risk of becoming pregnant – all of which contribute to decreasing teen birth rates.
As we celebrate the accomplishments of the past twenty-plus years, leadership from the SC Campaign says it is important that we not confuse progress with victory, as nearly 4,800 young women under the age of 20 became mothers just last year, and South Carolina still has the 12th highest teen birth rate in the nation.
“In the coming years, it is our hope that South Carolina commits to an even greater emphasis on best practices including the use of evidence-based programs and increasing the attention paid to those youth at higher risk of pregnancy, namely older teens (18-19 year olds) and those young people who are already parents,” said Alton. “With continued support at the state and local level, South Carolina can absolutely achieve even further reductions and accelerate progress.”
About the South Carolina Campaign:
The mission of the SC Campaign is to improve the health and economic well being of individuals, communities and the state of South Carolina by preventing teen pregnancy. To achieve its mission, the SC Campaign works with a variety of programs – public, private, school and community based – in each of the state’s 46 counties. For more information on this press release, county specific teen pregnancy data or general inquiries please visit www.teenpregnancysc.org.