Texas teens lead nation in birth rate Experts questioning abstinence-only education approach
09:03 AM CST on Monday, November 5, 2007
By ROBERT T. GARRETT / The Dallas Morning News
While the national teen birth rate has slowed, Texas has made far less headway, alarming public health officials and child advocates.
Texas teens lead the nation in having babies. Last month, the nonprofit group Child Trends conferred another No. 1 ranking on Texas. In the latest statistics available, 24 percent of the state's teen births in 2004 were not the girl's first delivery.
If you scroll down a bit you get to this section:
Erandy Gonzalez, 17, of Oak Cliff, could almost be the poster girl for Texas' challenges. She is Hispanic, and Hispanics by far have the highest teen birth rates of any ethnic group. She is the mother of a 15-month-old girl and is pregnant again.
In 2004, Hispanic girls ages 15 to 19 accounted for 61 percent of teen births even though only 39 percent of Texas adolescents were Hispanic, according to the federal National Center for Health Statistics.
Teen pregnancy is normal in Mexico, where the age of consent, throughout most of the country, is 12. In Mexico, however, it's more likely to result in teen marriage, something that's largely died out in the US. It's coming back, though, fueled by Hispanic immigration.
According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, young girls of Latino descent are bucking a historic national downward trend in teen pregnancy.[Early marriage survives in the U.S. Paul Salopek, Chicago Tribune Dec. 29, 2004]
One study released in March by the Mid-America Institute on Poverty in Illinois shows that the birthrate for Latinas age 10 to 19 in that state actually grew by 18 percent in the past decade, while birthrates for all other ethnic groups declined.
"We get a steady influx of people from Mexico, and they bring certain traditions with them," says Maria Socorro Pesqueira, the executive director of Latina Women in Action, an outreach organization in Chicago. "There are quinceanera (coming-of-age) parties for 15-year-old girls that send the signal: Hey, you're a lady now and ready to move on in life."