At the end of the second year of its National Strategy to Prevent Teen Preg- nancy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pleased to report that teen pregnancy rates continue to decline. However, while the on-going decrease in teen pregnancy rates is encouraging and suggests that the Department's Strategy is having a positive impact, we must remember that the rates continue to be too high and we should not relax our efforts to prevent teen pregnancy.
The President and Congress called on HHS to develop a National Strategy to address this serious challenge and to assure that at least 25 percent of communities in this country have teen pregnancy prevention programs in place — as mandated under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The Department responded to this call by releasing a National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy in January of 1997. This Strategy presented a comprehensive plan to prevent teen pregnancies in the United States by strengthening, integrating, and supporting teen pregnancy prevention and other youth-related activities in communities across the country.
More Good News. Encouraging trends in teen pregnancy rates continue:
- Teen birth rates declined for white, black, American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander and Hispanic women ages 15-19, from 1991 through 1998.
- The birth rate for black teens reached the lowest rate ever reported for blacks in 1998, and also declined more than any group between 1991 and 1998.
- Teen birth rates have decreased in every state.
Our Charge and the Work Ahead. While these data indicate that concerted efforts to reduce teen pregnancy may be succeeding, we still have a long way to go. The Federal government, the private sector, parents and other caring adults are all helping send the same message: Don't become a parent until you are truly ready to support a child.
Key Principles. The National Strategy is guided by five key principles which shape and guide our prevention efforts. Based on ideas that are essential to all community efforts, as indicated by research and experience, the key principles are the cornerstone of the Department's Strategy.