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Reducing Teen Pregnancy: Engaging Communities

Photo: two high school graduates hugging.Teen pregnancy and childbearing bring substantial social and economic costs to teen parents, their children, and to communities. More than 360,000 teen girls give birth each year in the United States. One half of teen mothers do not finish high school. While much progress has been made in recent decades, U.S. teen pregnancy and birth rates remain much higher than in other developed nations, and cost U.S. taxpayers more than $9 billion each year.

Success in preventing teen pregnancies and births requires a sustained commitment to meet the complex challenges facing the nation's youth. As part of the President's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI), CDC is partnering with the federal Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) to reduce teenage pregnancy and address disparities in teen pregnancy and birth rates. The ASH Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) is supporting public and private entities to fund medically accurate and age appropriate evidence-based or innovative program models to reduce teen pregnancy.

The CDC/OAH initiative recommends strategies that

  • Include evidence-based sex education that provides accurate information and supports the needs of teens throughout their development.
  • Include efforts to help parents and teens communicate effectively with each other.
  • Ensure sexually active teens have access to effective and affordable contraceptives.

Individuals and organizations from all levels of our communities have important roles to play in reducing teen pregnancy. Here are some steps you can take:

Health & Human Services Agencies

  • Fund community programs shown to reduce teen pregnancy and birth rates in populations where the risk is highest.
  • Recommend sex education that provides teens with accurate information on abstinence and birth control, and helps parents and teens communicate effectively.
  • Encourage the availability of effective, affordable birth control for sexually active teens.

Health Care Providers

  • Provide culturally appropriate, youth-friendly services.
    • Talk with teen patients about sexual health and preventing pregnancy.
    • Strengthen linkages and partnerships with community-based, youth-serving organizations, health departments, and other youth-serving government programs.
  • Assess teens' need for birth control and discuss options with them, including long acting reversible contraception. Make sure sexually active teens understand the importance of using both condoms and hormonal contraception.
  • If a teen has already had a pregnancy and remains sexually active, make sure she is aware of long acting reversible contraception as one option.

Community- and Faith-based Organizations

  • Support evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs.
    • Identify youth in greatest need of prevention services.
  • Promote youth development strategies that help teens avoid situations that can lead to risky behaviors.
  • Sustain activities that help youth living in foster care and juvenile justice settings gain knowledge and skills needed to choose healthy behaviors.
  • Help policy makers and other stakeholders understand how they can help reduce teen pregnancy.

Photo: mother and daughter.Parents and Guardians

  • Learn about teen pregnancy, sex and contraception, and how to talk with teens about preventing pregnancy.
  • Ask your teen's school to provide evidence-based sex education.
  • Talk with your teen's health care provider about teen pregnancy.
  • Talk with your teen about sex, pregnancy, relationships, and birth control.

Teens

  • Talk with your health care provider about preventing pregnancy.
  • Talk with your parents orguardians about sex, pregnancy, relationships, and contraception.
  • Take advantage of teen pregnancy prevention and youth development programs in your community.
  • Ask your school to provide evidence-based sex education.

More Information

  • Page last reviewed: July 5, 2012
  • Page last updated: July 5, 2012
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
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