Preventing Teen Pregnancy,
Promoting Healthy Youth
Though high teen birth rates persist in Oklahoma, school health programs are working to improve those numbers!
Oklahoma’s teen birth rate for ages 15-19 stalled in 2019, increasing by 1% from 2018. It decreased by half (52%) in the past decade, dropping from 54.7 in 2009 to 27.4 in 2019. Even so, the state had the 4th highest teen birth rate in 2019, ranking 47th among all states. Oklahoma’s birth rate for younger teens (aged 15-17) was 11.0, ranked 48th; the birth rate for older teens (aged 18-19) was 52.1, ranked 47th. [Birth rates are the number of births per 1,000 females of the same age range.]
Oklahoma’s annual teen birth numbers and rates were cut in half in the decade between 2009 and 2019, yet it remains among a handful of states with the highest teen birth rates in the nation. Bottom line: while other states have made prevention a major priority, investing in educational programs and access to reproductive health services that really work, Oklahoma has not allocated state funding for teen pregnancy prevention in well over a decade.
The good news in Oklahoma is at the community level where quality health education programs and teen clinic services are being provided, thanks to funding from federal initiatives, foundations, tribes and local sources. Those efforts have been the catalyst behind Oklahoma’s success in dramatically reducing teen birth numbers and rates in recent years.
Community-wide adolescent sexual health initiatives in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metro areas have led the way — expanding school-based health education programs, teen-friendly clinics and opportunities for youth and adults to be active partners in prevention. Ensuring that all young people, especially those at higher risk, have access to relevant sexual health education and services that address their developmental needs remains the overarching goal of these initiatives.