Teen-pregnancy rate falls

Published 9:05 pm Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beaufort County ranked 18th in teen-pregnancy rates across the state in 2011, according to a report released by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina.
Last year, the state rate of pregnancies per 1,000 teen girls was 43.8. In 2011, Richmond County had the highest rate of teen pregnancy at 90.3 (per 1,000).
In 2010, Beaufort County was ranked No. 12.  In 2009, the county was ranked No. 16. North Carolina has 100 counties.
In 2011, the state’s teen-pregnancy rate was at its lowest level ever, dropping 12 percent from the previous year. That change represents the biggest year-to-year decline ever.
The source of the statistics is the North Carolina Center for State Health Statistics.
“Cultural shifts have made it easier for our young people to avoid pregnancy,” said Kay Phillips, CEO of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina, in the report. “However, it’s important to realize that those cultural shifts would not have happened without policies that promote more effective education and access to health care.”
North Carolina has also made a concerted effort to place prevention resources in the most high-need counties and with the most at-risk groups, according to the APPCNC report.
“Historically, more than 10 percent of girls in some counties get pregnant each year. By targeting the most deeply affected communities with effective programs, we’re increasing our return on investment,” said Phillips in the report.
Because of the fewer pregnancies, the state’s abortion rate dropped by 21 percent and the state’s birth rate dropped by 9 percent
In Beaufort County during 2011, the teen-pregnancy rate per 1,000 girls ages 15 through 19 was 60.7. The teen-pregnancy rate among African-American girls in the age range was 90.5. The teen-pregnancy rate among white girls in that age range was 31.2. As for Hispanic girls in that age range, no rate was reported. (Rates based on small numbers — 20 pregnancies or less — are unstable and not provided, according to APPCNC.)
In 2011, there were 82 confirmed teen pregnancies in Beaufort County. The year before, there were 94l confirmed teen pregnancies. In 2009, there were 115 confirmed teen pregnancies in the county.
The North Carolina General Assembly targeted a total of $3,150,000 in federal funds toward the state’s teen-pregnancy prevention initiatives during the 2012 session. Based on a February analysis of similar programs by the Brookings Institution, that investment alone is expected to save taxpayers nearly $8 million in long-term costs associated with teen pregnancy. In 2008, North Carolina taxpayers paid $292 million to cover the long-term costs of historical teen births in the state, the report notes.
In addition, North Carolina has attracted a series of federal grants to help local communities address prevention in new ways.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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