Groups Unify to Reduce Latina Teen Pregnancy

More than 50 national organizations have taken the first steps toward a new national campaign to reduce pregnancies among Latina teens – who have the nation’s highest teen pregnancy rate – led by the National Council of La Raza and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancies.

Although teen birth rates for Hispanic teens between 15 and 19 dropped 5 percent from 2007 to 2008, that rate stood at 77.4 per 1,000, compared with the overall teen birthrate of 41.5 per 1,000, according to the most recent statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics.

“But those figures are based on school-census figures,” said Vicky Cardoza of the National Council of La Raza’s Institute for Hispanic Health, noting that Hispanic teens have the highest dropout rate in the nation (at least 25 percent) and that many immigrant teens never have any association with American schools. Cardoza is NCLR’s project coordinator for the teen pregnancy campaign.

U.S. Census statistics show that 52 percent of Latina girls have been pregnant at least once by the time they are 20.

“We have got to keep those numbers going down,” said Cardoza, explaining that before the drop in 2008, teen pregnancies among Latinas had been essentially stagnant for several years. For a historical look at the problem and some ways to deal with it, see Latinas’ Perplexing Lead in Teen Births.

The two main partners kicked off what they see as a long-running national effort with a public announcement this week heralding the large number of groups that have signed onto a “national consensus” statement about the need for a national initiative against Hispanic teen pregnancies and the basic tenets of such an effort.

The next step will be additional meetings of La Raza and National Campaign officials, which should lead to a national convening of the various groups that have signed on to support the consensus document. A unified national campaign should grow from that.

Among the groups that have announced that they will support the national effort are the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, First Focus, the National Hispanic Medical Association, LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) and Planned Parenthood Association.

The consensus serves as a guide for how the various organizations can promote teen pregnancy reduction as part of their everyday services.

“We know that this can’t be just aimed at Latina teens,” Cardoza said. The campaign will strive to support entire families. “Often, parents don’t feel they can talk to their children about these matters … but children listen to their parents more than they [the parents] realize.”

The four main tenets of the consensus document concern removing barriers that limit opportunities for Hispanics of all ages.

To read more about the initiative and the supporting organizations, click here.

Recent figures indicate that births and abortions are slightly up among all U.S. teens, after years of decline.


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