The teen birth
in New Mexico is decreasing, but not as quickly as for the United States.
In 2004, New Mexico’s teen birth rate of 59.8 births per 1000 females, age
15-19, was 1.5 times higher than the United States teen birth rate of 41.2.
Between 1990 and 2004, New Mexico’s birth rate to mothers age 15-19 declined
23% compared to 31.2% nationally.
and childbearing are associated with adverse consequences for teen mothers
and their children, but it is important to note that many of the negative
consequences for teen mothers are due to the disadvantaged situation in
which many of these girls already live.
Teenage mothers and fathers tend to have less education and are more likely
to live in poverty than their peers who are not teen parents. Babies born to
teen mothers are more likely to have health problems at birth, do poorly in
school, do time in jail and also become teen parents.
imposes costs on the teenage mothers, children born to teenagers and society
in general. Teenage mothers can expect to earn, after tax, between $50,000
and $120,000 less over a lifetime compared to mothers who delay until at
least age 20,. Children born to teenagers in any one year earn $100 million
less over their lifetime. An estimate of the annual extra cost of welfare
services for these children is between $1 million and $2 million. Overall,
the economic impact on society is $170,000 for each teenage mother, for a
total of nearly $590 million for all new mothers each year in New Mexico.
The risk and protective factors for teen
pregnancy may be grouped into 4 key themes:
Individual biological factors (e.g. age,
physical maturity and gender)
Disadvantage, disorganization and
dysfunction in the lives of the teens themselves and their environments
(e.g. rates of substance abuse, violence, and divorce; also levels of
Sexual values, attitudes, and modeled
behavior (e.g. teens’ own values about sexual behavior as well as those
expressed by parents, peers, and romantic partners)
to adults and organizations that discourage sex, unprotected sex, or early
childbearing (e.g. attachment to parents and other adults in their schools
and places of worship).
Several key ideas for teen pregnancy
prevention programs that serve Hispanic youth are cited in a recent study:
- Hispanics are a diverse group and this
diversity extends to the family unit. The varying levels of acculturation
for children of immigrants and their parents needs to be addressed.
- Try to turn what may be seen as
cultural barriers into cultural motivators.
- Working with Hispanic teens means
working with their families, and parents need the motivation and skills to
talk with their teens.
- Pay closer attention to the influence
growing up in a bicultural world has on ideas and behavior related to teen
pregnancy and family formation.
- The case for preventing teen pregnancy
needs to be made in a way that supports childbearing and family formation
generally – strongly held values in Hispanic culture – while explaining
the social, economic, and health benefits to adults and children of
postponing family formation until after the teen years.
Kirby D, Lepore G and Ryan J. Sexual Risk
and Protective Factors. Factors Affecting Teen Sexual Behavior, Pregnancy,
Childbearing And Sexually Transmitted Disease: Which Are Important? Which
Can You Change? The National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, September