Teen birthrate increases in Alabama

Published 8:22 pm Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kendra Majors

Alabama ranks in the top 10 states with increased teen birth rates, a report issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this week said.

Alabama’s teen birthrate was 53.5 per 1,000, while the national birth rate was 41.9 per 1,000 for 2006.

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The rate is up 8 percent from 2005, when the Alabama teenage birth rate was 49.7 per 1,000.

The national birth rate is up 3 percent from 2005.

According to the CDC, the increase interrupted a 14-year period of continuous decline in teen birth rate from 1991-2005.

The increases were the highest in the Southwest and South, and the lowest in the Northeast.

Still, the only states that saw declines were North Dakota, Rhode Island and New York.

States with higher populations such as California, Texas and Florida still made up the majority of additional teen births, as far as the actual number.

Many critics insist that the Bush administration’s move to increase federal funding for abstinence-only programs should have been used for sex education courses that teach how to use contraceptives.

While critics think that it is better to teach teenagers how to use contraceptives, Cora McMaster, executive director of Abstienece in Motion maintains that abstience only programs are best for students.

According to McMaster, she thinks the biggest contributor to teen pregnancy is the attention it gets from media, the lack of involvement of parents and the general public in today’s youth.

McMaster said that when AIM holds community events very few people attend, even parents do not take interest.

“We are teaching abstaining from all sexual activities until marriage,” McMaster said. “This is the safest and most secure way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.”

McMaster said the biggest thing is that teenagers lack knowledge and that’s what AIM is giving them.

“We’re trying to give them correct facts,” McMaster said.

According to McMaster, the program doesn’t just focus on the pregnancy and STD aspect sex before marriage, but also the emotional and other factors that go along with it.

The AIM program not only focuses on sexual abstience, but also, abstienence from alcohol and drugs.

While the teen pregnancy rate is up in Alabama, organizations such as AIM have been working hard to promote abstienece in Alabama teens.

McMaster said that Alabama is an abstience only state for sexual education-based programs, and there are only seven state organizations for the whole state of Alabama.