Room for improvement

Published 10:27 pm Friday, November 16, 2012

First, here’s the good news. Beaufort County’s teen-pregnancy rate fell from 2010 to 2011, going from having the 12th-highest rate among North Carolina’s 100 counties to having the 18th-highest rate.
Now the bad news, Beaufort County’s teen-pregnancy rate is among the state’s highest teen-pregnancy rates.
More good news — North Carolina’s teen-pregnancy rate is the lowest it’s ever been, according to figures released by the North Carolina Center for State Health Statistics.
The drop from 2010 to 2011 tells us something is going right across the state and in Beaufort County. As it is for the state, there’s room for improvement in Beaufort County.
Along with the news about the drop in the state’s teen-pregnancy rate came news that the state’s abortion rate dropped by 21 percent and the state’s birth rate dropped by 9 percent. That’s welcome news, too.
What led to the decline?
“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 a report about the teen-pregnancy rates. “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.”
The North Carolina General Assembly can take some credit for the decline
It targeted a total of $3,150,000 in federal funds toward the state’s teen-pregnancy prevention initiatives during its 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.
North Carolina and Beaufort County are heading in the right direction when it comes to teen-pregnancy rates. They need the resources and funding to make sure they continue to head in the right direction.
If fewer teen pregnancies mean fewer abortions, isn’t that reason enough to ensure the state and county keep heading in the right direction?