BOSTON (WWLP) – The teen birth rate for Massachusetts in 2012 is the lowest ever recorded in the state, and 50% below the U.S. teen birth rate.
According to data released by the Mass. Department of Public Health, the 2012 teen birth rate of 14.0 per 1,000 teen girls reflects a more than 50% decline since a peak of 35.9 in 1989.
“Youth behavior data shows that rates of sexual activity have not changed significantly, so it appears that much of the decline in teen birth rates can be attributed to increased youth access to shame-free medically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education and contraception,” said Brenda Madura, executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy.
“The Alliance is particularly pleased to see impressive declines in the teen birth rate in Springfield and Holyoke,” said Madura, where the Alliance has been part of a multi-year community based approach, Youth First, to reduce unintended teen pregnancy.
However, even though the state’s teen birth rate has lowered; there is still a big gap across the Commonwealth. The DPH reports that Black’s and Latino’s, youth in foster care, and those who identify as LGBTQ often get higher rates of teen births.
Also, cities like Holyoke, Springfield, and Chelsea experience higher teen birth rates. Madura said, “If we are truly committed to decreasing teen births and increasing access to power and resources for teens and young parents, then we need to continue to build environments that enable decision-making about relationships, sex, and life with self-determination.”
Ciara Mejia, a young parent policy fellow with the Alliance adds that people often shame and use scare tactics to prevent teen pregnancy. “Shame doesn’t prevent teen pregnancy, it’s the opposite of what young people need. Learning about reproductive health and effective, accurate sexual education is simply educating young people about facts, it’s not encouraging them to have sex.”