Despite the recent decline in the teen birth rate, teen pregnancy remains
a significant problem in this country. Most teen pregnancies are unintended.
Each year, about 200,000 teens aged 17 and younger have children. Their babies
are often low birth weight and have disproportionately high infant mortality
rates. They are also far more likely to be poor. About 80 percent of the
children born to unmarried teenagers who dropped out of high school are poor.
In contrast, just 8 percent of children born to married high school graduates
aged 20 or older are poor.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has responded to a call from the President and Congress for
a national strategy to prevent out-of-wedlock teen pregnancies and to a
directive, under the new welfare law, to assure that at least 25 percent
of communities in this country have teen pregnancy prevention programs in
Building on our previous work in this area, our national strategy is designed
I. Strengthen the national response to prevent out-of-wedlock teen pregnancies.
II. Support and encourage adolescents to remain abstinent.
Our national strategy will build on existing public and private-sector efforts
and on initiatives in the new welfare law by helping to provide the tools
needed to develop more strategic and targeted approaches to preventing
out-of-wedlock teen pregnancies. It will strengthen ongoing efforts across
the nation by increasing opportunities through welfare reform; supporting
promising approaches; building partnerships; improving data collection, research,
and evaluation; and disseminating information on innovative and effective
This strategy will also send the strongest possible message to teens that
postponing sexual activity, staying in school, and preparing for work are
the right things to do. In particular, our new
Girl Power! public education campaign
will engage the Department's teen pregnancy prevention programs in efforts
to promote abstinence among 9- to 14-year-old girls.
As we move forward in implementing the national strategy, we will adhere
to and promote the five principles that research and experience tell us are
key to promising community efforts:
Parental and Adult Involvement: Parents and other adult mentors must
play key roles in encouraging young people to avoid early pregnancy and to
stay in school.
Abstinence: Abstinence and personal responsibility must be primary
messages of prevention programs.
Clear Strategies for the Future: Young people must be given clear
connections and pathways to college or jobs that give them hope and a reason
to stay in school and avoid pregnancy.
Community Involvement: Public and private-sector partners throughout
communities, including parents, schools, business, media, health and human
services providers, and religious organizations, must work together to develop
Sustained Commitment: Real success requires a sustained commitment
to the young person over a long period of time.
For further information please e-mail: