Reducing Teen Pregnancy

The Christian Science Monitor, May 22, 1997 | Go to article overview

Reducing Teen Pregnancy


Recent federal surveys show that sexual activity among teens is down - the first decline in 30 years. That's encouraging. Still, statistics on teen pregnancies are staggering: Forty percent of young women in the US become pregnant by age 20. Most are unmarried. So much more needs to be done about this "uniquely American dilemma," as former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean calls it.

Though it's taken a long time getting off the ground, that "more" could come partly in the form of an independent, nonprofit effort headed by Mr. Kean and economist Isabel Sawhill. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy's ambitious (and, we think, achievable) goal is to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate by one-third by 2005. In the process, its leaders wisely will try to avoid debates over abortion and contraception and concentrate on the task at hand.

Part of that task is to learn what programs work, to spread the word, and to work to replicate them throughout the country. Already we know the best programs are comprehensive, age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, and well funded. California, for example, last month introduced an advertising campaign emphasizing the difficult consequences of single-motherhood. …

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