Oklahoma’s teen birth rate among 15-19 year olds ranked 2nd highest in the nation, according to the most recent 2012 birth data report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Alarmingly, the report also showed that Oklahoma had the 3rd highest rate for younger teens ages 15-17 years -- and had the highest birth rate for older teens ages 18-19 years, the group that represents the majority of teen births.
Reducing Oklahoma’s high teen birth rates is essential to increasing high school graduation rates and college attendance; maintaining a skilled workforce; and ensuring we have prepared, stable, and self-supporting families.” says Sharon Rodine, Director of Youth Initiatives at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.
The national report highlighted the historic low teen birth rates in the U.S. which declined 6% from 2011 to 2012. Oklahoma’s teen birth rate remained basically unchanged during this same period, even though the total number of teen births fell 3% between 2011 and 2012, and has decreased 22% compared to five years ago.
Clearly, Oklahoma’s decreasing teen birth rates are following national trends and moving in the right direction, but equally clear is the fact that other states are getting better – faster,” said Terry Smith, CEO/President of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. “We need to learn what other states are doing, especially those where the declines have been the greatest.”
Rodine applauded the teen pregnancy prevention efforts that have been expanding in the two major metro areas, noting that Oklahoma County and Tulsa County represent two out of every five (41%) teen births. “The Central Oklahoma Teen Pregnancy Prevention Collaboration is expanding, thanks to leadership from the Kirkpatrick Family Fund in Oklahoma City, and the Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy was launched last year thanks to leadership and funding from local community foundations,” she said. “These initiatives hold tremendous promise for our state’s prevention efforts.”
For copies of the 2012 Oklahoma teen birth report, “Oklahoma Alert” and the 2012 State Teen Birth Ranking reports, check the “Fast Facts” section of the Healthy Teens Oklahoma website.
Did you know?
Two counties, Oklahoma and Tulsa, represent 40% of all teen births in 2012. Over half of all teen births occurred in 8 counties: Oklahoma, Tulsa, Comanche, Cleveland, Muskogee, Pottawatomie, Garfield and Creek.
Two-thirds of all teen births occured in 18 counties: Oklahoma (1,223), Tulsa (922), Comanche (196), Cleveland (193), Muskogee (136), Pottawatomie (122), Garfield (121), Creek (117), Carter (111), Canadian (110), Kay (108), LeFlore (105), Sequoyah (94), Stephens (88), Cherokee (85), McCurtain (83), Okmulgee (82) and Mayes (81) .
For maps showing the 2012 county teen birth numbers and rates in Oklahoma, check the "Fast Facts" section on this website.