Teenage Pregnancy

March 23, 1979

Report Outline
Epidemic of Teenage Pregnancy
Social and Public Policy Factors
Sex Education for Adolescents
Special Focus

Epidemic of Teenage Pregnancy

Concern for Welfare of Pregnant Teens

The birth of a child usually is an occasion of great joy. But for thousands of teenagers, especially those who are unmarried, childbirth can usher in a dismal future of unemployment, poverty, welfare dependency, emotional stress and health problems for mother and child. “The girl who has an illegitimate child at the age of 16 suddenly has 90 percent of her life's script written for her,” population expert Arthur A. Campbell has written. “Her choices are few and most of them are bad.”

President Carter's proposed budget for fiscal year 1980, sent to Congress Jan. 22, included a $60 million request for a new program to provide medical and other supportive services to pregnant teenagers, adolescent parents and their babies. The fact that Carter requested funding for the teenage pregnancy program, at a time when he is calling for restraint in spending for most social-welfare programs, reflects his deep concern for what the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Joseph A. Califano Jr., has called “one of the most serious and complex social problems facing our nation today.” Carter and Califano's concern is shared by most family planning and child welfare organizations, even those that have reservations about the administration's approach to the problem.

Each year about one million teenagers become pregnant; about 600,000 actually give birth. Nearly a quarter-million of these births are to girls between the ages of 15 and 17, while over 12,000 are to girls under the age of 15. With birth rates declining for women over 20, teenagers now account for nearly one in every five births in the country.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sex Education
Sep. 16, 2005  Teen Sex
Jul. 10, 1998  Encouraging Teen Abstinence
Jun. 23, 1989  Sex Education: How Well Does It Work?
Aug. 28, 1981  Sex Education
Mar. 23, 1979  Teenage Pregnancy
Oct. 30, 1957  Sex Education in Schools
Population Control