Shelby County Teen Pregnancy and Parenting Needs Assessment
Adolescent pregnancy significantly impacts the educational attainment, economic security, and wellbeing of both teen parents and their children as well as teens’ ability to achieve their full potential. Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared “Preventing Teen Pregnancy” one of six “winnable battles” because there is no cure yet to be found – we already know what works. The CDC points to four key strategies: 1) increase public awareness, 2) support evidence-based sex education programs, 3) increase access to contraception, and 4) get parents involved. Despite this seemingly concrete advice, teen pregnancy remains a complex challenge for communities to prioritize and systematically address. Shelby County teen birth rates are significantly higher than rates for the state. For teens 15-17, the county birthrate is 36.7/1000 women aged 15-17, as compared to 24/1000 at the state level. Similarly, for teens 18-19 the county birthrate is 107.8 per 1000 girls aged 18-19, as compared to 85.9/1000 for the state. Moreover, birth rates only tell part of the teen pregnancy story, as these numbers do not include cases of miscarriage or other termination. Furthermore, these statistics say nothing about the experiences and needs of teen parents. Therefore, a broader understanding of teen experiences in the Memphis community is essential. Ultimately, supporting the prevention of adolescent pregnancy and promoting effective teen parenting will have a significant positive impact on our community.