Groundbreaking Bill Integrates Teen Pregnancy & Violence Prevention
Jul 28th, 2011
The “Communities of Color Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act” was introduced by U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and tomorrow by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), two long-time champions of efforts to reduce health disparities and violence among Latinos and other ethnic communities. The bill breaks ground as the first federal program to integrate teen dating violence prevention and teen pregnancy prevention, and in recognizing the need of racial or ethnic minority and immigrant communities for culturally appropriate information and education on these issues.
The US has the highest teen pregnancy rates of any developed nation. Each year close to 750,000 teens become pregnant, and 82% of those pregnancies are unplanned. The impact is dramatic in communities of color; in 2009 the teen birth rate for Latinas, African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives was more than double the teen birth rate of non-Hispanic Caucasians. Disparities in contraceptive use are closely connected to social and economic inequities in communities of color; for example, a Latina girl is three times more likely to be without health insurance than her white counterpart.
The number of teens facing violence and coercion is equally striking, with 1 in 4 adolescents reporting emotional, physical, or sexual violence each year. Adolescent girls in physically abusive relationships are three times more likely to become pregnant than non-abused girls.
The Communities of Color Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act would:
- Fund teenage pregnancy prevention program interventions with a focus on supporting community-based organizations that are well-positioned to serve youth in ethnic and racial groups with the highest teen pregnancy rates have experienced barriers in accessing federal teen pregnancy prevention funding and can serve youth in ethnic and racial groups with the highest teen pregnancy rates;
- Fund multimedia public education and awareness about teen pregnancy and related social and emotional issues, such as violence prevention;
- Study factors that contribute to disproportionately high rates of teenage and unintended pregnancy in communities of color, and the role that violence and abuse play in the decisions young people make about relationships, sex, pregnancy, and childbearing.
The legislation has been advocated by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund), and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.