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Winning the Battle: Teen Birth Rates in South Carolina Hit All-Time Low

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

 For the third year in a row, teen birth rates in South Carolina have declined, and are now at an all-time low. Information released by the Department of Health and Environmental Control shows a teen birth rate for 15-19 year olds of 42.6 per 1,000, correlating to a 13% decline from 2009-2010. South Carolina has seen a 26% decline in the teen birth rate over the last decade.

    Forrest Alton, Chief Executive Officer of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (SC Campaign), says these declines should be celebrated and recognized as a major accomplishment by teens and those who care about them. “In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control deemed teen pregnancy a winnable battle, and I am happy to report that we are currently winning that battle in South Carolina,” said Alton. “We have a long road ahead and much work remains, but we should absolutely take a moment to celebrate the amazing progress that young people have made over the last decade.”

    Experts suggest a variety of reasons for these improvements, but three main ideas seem to emerge as the most likely. First, teens should be applauded for making responsible decisions. Teens today are choosing abstinence at a higher frequency, and if they do have sex, are using contraceptives more consistently than in the 1990s. Second, teen pregnancy is now seen as a critical issue. In a recent statewide survey of South Carolina adults 95% agreed that teen pregnancy is an important issue, and nearly 85% support school-based sexuality education. Third, there is a culture of openness that exists in today’s society that was not present in the past. Teen pregnancy is being discussed much more frequently in the media and in turn is being discussed in young people’s homes. In fact, over 75% of South Carolina high school students report that their parents have talked to them about expectations around sexual behaviors.

    Alton remains hopeful that positive progress will continue in South Carolina, but recognizes there is still room to increase and enhance existing efforts. “If we can do three things – increase the number of high quality programs and services that are available for all youth, improve the delivery of age-appropriate, research proven sex education in public schools, and enhance the conversations about love, sex and relationships parents are having with their children – we will undoubtedly continue to see progress.” Despite recent declines, too high rates of teen pregnancy in South Carolina are directly associated with indicators of academic achievement, child health and economic stability. Given the high stakes, Alton suggests that everyone has a role to play in prevention. “The time is now for each of us to step up and make an investment in our state’s most valuable resource – young people.”

    Links for More Information:
    County Profiles (LINK)

    2000-2010 SC Teen Birth Trends (DOC)

    Teen Pregnancy in South Carolina: A Snapshot (DOC)

    Winning the Battle: An in-depth look into the reasons behind the decline (DOC)

    State Map and County Rankings (DOC)

    In the News
    Sun News, Opinion Blog

    WMBF - Horry County, state reach 10 year low in teen pregnancy rate

    The State - SC teen birth rates drop again

    Hilton Head Island Packet - Fewer teen moms in Beaufort County, but they're getting younger

    Spartanburg Herald Journal - Teen pregnancy rate in SC declines

    SC Radio Network - Teen pregnancy rate declines in SC

    Sun News - Teen birth rates down, but more work needed

    Midlands Biz - Winning the Battle

    U Need 2 Know - Doug Taylor, CPO, interviewed

    WLTX - Friends at Five, Forrest Alton, CEO, interviewed

    WPDE-SC teen birth rates down 13 percent

    WIS - Report: SC teen birth rates decline for third straight year

    Spartanburg Herald Journal - Diligent community efforts turn tide on teen pregnancy - Teens Afraid To Get Pregnant Because of ‘Teen Mom’

    Post and Courier - Decline in S.C. teen pregnancies is cause for celebration

    Post and Courier - S.C. teen pregnancy rate falls third year in a row

    Summerville Journal Scene - Teen birth rates declining

    WSPA - SC Teen Pregnancy Numbers Drop but Experts Say More Education Needed

    Free Times - Teen pregnancy hit an all-time low in South Carolina

    Spartanburg Herald - Join the Conversation

    Fox Carolina - Teen Pregnancy in the Upstate

    Orangeburg Times and Democrat -  Local teen pregnancy rates decrease, follow statewide trend

    Read more