Eastern Kentucky University

Poster Title

Policy Strategies for Preventing Teen Pregnancy in Kentucky

Institution

Eastern Kentucky University

Abstract

Teen Pregnancy in the state of Kentucky has been an area of concern for educators, families, and policy makers for many years. The state of Kentucky is among the top ten states with the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation (CDC, 2010). The national birth rate for teens age 15-19 in 2008 was 41.5 per 1,000. Kentucky's teen birth rate was 55.6 per 1,000. Even more alarming is the rate among Black and Hispanic youth which were 72 per 1,000 and 133 per 1000, respectively. Although there has been a general decline in teen pregnancy across the United States, rates of teen pregnancy in Kentucky continues to remain high. The financial, social, and psychological costs associated with teen pregnancy weigh heavily on teen mothers, families, and the public sector (Hoffman, 2006). Thus, it is critical that sex education programs be restructured to help alleviate this problem. The aims of this review were to identify factors that are associated with teen pregnancy among adolescents and provide policy suggestions (supported by empirical research) to reduce teen pregnancy rates for Kentucky adolescents. Findings from the review indicated that multiple factors were associated with teen pregnancy rates including poverty and income inequality, lack of effective sex education, and lack of parental support/communication about sex, to name a few. Teen pregnancy rates also varied across ethnic groups. Given the disparities among ethnic and cultural groups, it is imperative that policy makers and educators design sex education curricula and prevention efforts to lower the rates for all groups. Our paper presents a model based on the bioecological theory by Urie Bronfenbrenner geared towards creating sex education policies that involve overlapping systems (e.g., family, community, culture/ethnicity, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status) to reduce teen pregnancy. This proposed policy is evidence-based and includes a comprehensive approach to preventing and lowering teen pregnancy rates in Kentucky. It is expected that efforts from policy makers, schools, families, churches, businesses, and adolescents themselves will result in healthy sexual behaviors and choices for teens and consequently a significant reduction in teen pregnancies.

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Policy Strategies for Preventing Teen Pregnancy in Kentucky

Teen Pregnancy in the state of Kentucky has been an area of concern for educators, families, and policy makers for many years. The state of Kentucky is among the top ten states with the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation (CDC, 2010). The national birth rate for teens age 15-19 in 2008 was 41.5 per 1,000. Kentucky's teen birth rate was 55.6 per 1,000. Even more alarming is the rate among Black and Hispanic youth which were 72 per 1,000 and 133 per 1000, respectively. Although there has been a general decline in teen pregnancy across the United States, rates of teen pregnancy in Kentucky continues to remain high. The financial, social, and psychological costs associated with teen pregnancy weigh heavily on teen mothers, families, and the public sector (Hoffman, 2006). Thus, it is critical that sex education programs be restructured to help alleviate this problem. The aims of this review were to identify factors that are associated with teen pregnancy among adolescents and provide policy suggestions (supported by empirical research) to reduce teen pregnancy rates for Kentucky adolescents. Findings from the review indicated that multiple factors were associated with teen pregnancy rates including poverty and income inequality, lack of effective sex education, and lack of parental support/communication about sex, to name a few. Teen pregnancy rates also varied across ethnic groups. Given the disparities among ethnic and cultural groups, it is imperative that policy makers and educators design sex education curricula and prevention efforts to lower the rates for all groups. Our paper presents a model based on the bioecological theory by Urie Bronfenbrenner geared towards creating sex education policies that involve overlapping systems (e.g., family, community, culture/ethnicity, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status) to reduce teen pregnancy. This proposed policy is evidence-based and includes a comprehensive approach to preventing and lowering teen pregnancy rates in Kentucky. It is expected that efforts from policy makers, schools, families, churches, businesses, and adolescents themselves will result in healthy sexual behaviors and choices for teens and consequently a significant reduction in teen pregnancies.