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Boxer, Roybal – Allard Introduce Communities of Color Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act
Senate and House Legislation Seeks to Combat Rise in Teenage Pregnancy in Minority Communities
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) today introduced the Communities of Color Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act of 2011, legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives aimed at combating the high rate of teen pregnancy in minority communities.
Senator Boxer said, “This important legislation will help minority communities reduce high rates of unintended pregnancy and help young women and men to plan their families and their futures.”
“Teenage pregnancies often lead to significant social, educational, and financial burdens to families. Girls who become pregnant in adolescence will be less likely to finish high school, face higher rates of unemployment, and have a greater dependence on public assistance. There are also health consequences. Teenage pregnancies increase the risk of preterm or low birth weight infants, birth complications and infant mortality,” Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard said. “We have a national duty to work together to reduce teen pregnancy and increase awareness of teen pregnancy prevention. While there is no simple approach to address teen sexual behavior, we know that an effective strategy to reduce teen pregnancy involves sexual health education that takes into consideration cultural and linguistic differences.”
The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any developed nation. Close to 750,000 teens become pregnant each year, and 82 percent of these pregnancies are unplanned. Girls who become pregnant in adolescence tend to be less likely to finish high school, face higher rates of unemployment and have a greater dependence on public assistance.
Despite the progress our nation has made, many minority communities continue to struggle with disproportionately high rates of teen pregnancy. More than half of Latina and African American teenage girls will become pregnant at least once before they turn 20. In 2009, the teen birth rate for Latinas, African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives was more than double the teen birth rate of non-Hispanic Caucasians.
This legislation would support:
• teen pregnancy prevention demonstration projects with a focus on supporting community-based organizations that serve youth in ethnic and racial groups with the highest teen pregnancy rates;
• competitive grants for multimedia campaigns to provide public health education and increase awareness about teen pregnancy;
• research examining factors that contribute to disproportionately high rates of teenage and unintended pregnancy in communities of color, and studying the role that violence and abuse play in the decisions young people make about relationships, sex, pregnancy, and childbearing.