Wednesday, May 4, is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. For more information, please visit The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Teen pregnancy is a serious problem in the United States. Three out of 10 girls in the U.S. get pregnant before their 20th birthdays, and 1 out of every 10 babies born in the U.S. is born to a teen mother. This isn’t good for teens, it isn’t good for taxpayers, and it certainly isn’t good for babies.
Children of teen mothers are often born into situations that are less than ideal. Babies born to teens are more likely to grow up in poverty and apart from their fathers. They are more likely to struggle academically and less likely to graduate from high school. They are more likely to be born prematurely and at low birth weight. They are twice as likely to suffer abuse and neglect. They are also more likely to become teen parents themselves someday.
Teen childbearing costs U.S. taxpayers (federal, state, and local) more than $9 billion every year. Most of the costs are associated with negative consequences for the children of teen mothers – including increased costs for health care, foster care, and incarceration.
Teen moms face a lot of challenges too. Parenthood is a primary reason girls cite for dropping out of high school. Less than half of girls who have a baby before age 18 graduate from high school and fewer than 2% earn a college degree by age 30. Eight out of 10 fathers don’t marry the teen mother of their babies and most couples don’t stay together at all. More than half of all teen mothers will be on welfare within 5 years of giving birth. Teen mothers are likely to have a second birth relatively soon – about one-fourth of teen moms have a second child within 24 months of the first – which can further impede their ability to finish school, keep a job, or escape poverty.