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Tulsa County Shows Dramatic Decline in Birth Rates for School-Aged Teens

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Published 08/13/19 | Reading Time 2 min 25 sec 

By Preston Shatwell, with Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

The overall Tulsa County birth rate decreased 9% for teens, aged 15-19 between 2017 and 2018, outpacing the national decrease of only 7%, according to the final 2018 birth data released by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Tulsa County’s birth rate for school-aged teens, 15-17, decreased by 25% from 2017 to 2018; the birth rate decreased by 4% for older teens, aged 18-19. (Rates are the number of births per 1,000 females of the same age range.)

The 2018 Tulsa County birth rate was 24 for ages 15-19, lower than the state rate of 27, but higher than the provisional (not final) U.S. rate of 17. The 2018 county birth rate for school-aged teens, aged 15-17 was 9, compared to the state rate of 11 and the provisional U.S. rate of 7. The county birth rate for older teens, aged 18-19, was 50, compared to 52 statewide and the provisional U.S. rate of 32.

“These results reflect Tulsa’s continued commitment in making teen pregnancy prevention a community-wide priority,” said Amber McConnell, Executive Director of the Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “This dramatic decrease in births to younger teens is a strong return on investment that directly translates into more students graduating from high school ready for further education and career training. It’s a win-win for our youth and community.”

In 2018, Tulsa Campaign set their goal to reduce Tulsa County teen births by 30% from 2013 to 2020. This newly released data shows Tulsa Campaign passed this goal 2 years early with a 35% decrease in teen births from 2013 to 2018. The success of teen pregnancy prevention in Tulsa is due to a collaborative effort from partner organizations including Tulsa Health Department, Youth Services of Tulsa, Take Control Initiative, Tulsa Public Schools, and several other programs working to advance youth health outcomes in this area.

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Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy www.tulsacampaign.org  918.794.9073

Tulsa’s support for reducing teen pregnancy was well-documented in an independent public opinion poll conducted with 500 Tulsans in May 2019. Survey responses showed

  • Tulsans overwhelmingly agreed reducing teen pregnancy is important (90%).
  • Only one-fourth of the respondents knew Tulsa County’s teen birth rate was higher than the national average.
  • When learning that Tulsa County’s teen birth rate is higher than the national average, support for reducing teen pregnancy increased.
  • 9 out of 10 Tulsans support teaching sex education in schools.
  • Strong support (95%) existed for including healthy relationship skills, signs of harassment and abuse, and consent into sex education.
  • 9 out of 10 Tulsans supported teens having access to health centers.“Tulsa Public Schools is a leader in the state with our commitment to the teen birth prevention efforts, understanding the correlation between teen births and high school completion,” said Omare Jimmerson, Co-Founder and Program Director for Strong Tomorrows and Coordinator of Social Services for TPS. “We are also committed to equity by supporting our students who are young parents with the district-wide program Strong Tomorrows, which continues to show promising results in supporting graduation while reducing subsequent pregnancies.”

    “Teen births in Tulsa and its adjacent counties totaled one-fourth of all teen births in the state in 2018,” said McConnell. “Half of the teens giving birth in Tulsa County that year had not graduated from high school. Our partner, Strong Tomorrows, addresses this by providing guidance, support, and information for expectant teens in TPS. High school graduation is an important factor for future educational attainment and economic opportunity. It is critical we continue to expand our community’s prevention partnerships, educational programs, and access to health services for all young people which allows them the opportunity to plan their futures, including pregnancies.”

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