Teen Pregnancy: Has It Become A Southern Thing?

Researchers find teen pregnancy rates higher in southern states.

By: Taren Vaughan

When it comes to people being raised in the North versus the South, there are obvious differences between the two upbringings. From the accents to the style of dress, you can tell when a person is straight out of New York City versus one that is from the heart of Dallas, Texas. Most recently though, researchers have found that accents, clothes, and cars are the least of things that northerners and southerners don’t have in common.

In a recent study, numbers revealed that teenage pregnancy is on the rise in some areas of the country. That tidbit of information is not too surprising I’m sure seeing as though the age at which kids become sexually active continues to decline. The shocking part is where the majority of it is taking place. And you will never guess what region of the country that is occurring in the most. According to the CDC, a total of fourteen states nationwide saw significant decreases in teen pregnancies. Some of these states included Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, all northern states. Compared to the 25 births per 1,000 female teens ages 15 to 19 that were seen in these states, southern states like Arkansas, who had a 61.8 percent teenage birth rate per 1,000 teens, have much higher teen pregnancy rates.

Now the myth is that folks that are raised in the northern region of our country tend to grow up much faster than the rest, thus resulting in more teenage pregnancies. But after looking at the statistics, southern girls seem to be the ones who take that giant step into motherhood at an early age. Why is that?

One reason may be that a lot of teenage southerners, many who happen to be of African American or Hispanic descent, lack the proper education when it comes to sex. So many teenagers haven’t a clue as to how to protect themselves from pregnancy and STDs. Honestly, if you ask me though I think that is an excuse especially considering the fact that nowadays public school systems make it a point to include sex education into their curriculum. In a way, educators are clearing their names from the blame game when it comes to teenage pregnancy. Maybe someone could say that teenagers in the South can’t afford the proper contraceptive methods to prevent themselves from becoming pregnant. Hmm, that too would be a bad excuse to use. Granted birth control may be costly at times but condoms sure aren’t. Not to mention the fact that they are free of charge at the health clinic.

The real reason as to why these numbers have gotten so outrageous in southern states could be because a lot of southern parents can’t bring themselves to talking about sex with their sons and daughters. Because we have the image as very reserved individuals, sex is just not something that we are freely discussing with our thirteen year old son or daughter unless absolutely necessary. In our minds, they shouldn’t be thinking about it anyway. A lot of parents in the South still hold on to that old school mentality. But since it’s not 1950 anymore and kids are doing much more than just playing hide and seek, these “dreaded” sex talks need to be had. Wouldn’t you rather talk about it with your child and see what their thoughts are on the subject? Or would you rather have to take them to pick out a crib instead?

As a southern belle myself, I can say that growing up I did have a good bit of classmates that were having sex at young ages, and some of whom did wind up becoming teenage mothers. But I would have never thought that the numbers would be so high for us. That just goes to show you that one, you can’t buy into stereotypes of where people are from and use that as a way to determine their sexual behavior pattern. And two, discussing the importance of safe sex or better yet abstinence should not be pushed aside. And judging from the overall stats from the study, we as a society need to step it up. Yes, teens will do as they please at the end of the day but it is our duty to at least inform them about the consequences that they may face.

Source: CDC

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