The national teen pregnancy rate has actually declined 42% over the last twenty years. However, the many impacts of teen pregnancy and childbearing continue to be large, especially in the state of Texas. In 2010, 131 teens gave birth each day in Texas and 209 teen girls became pregnant. Texas has the third highest rate of teen pregnancies in the nation as well as the fourth highest rate of teen births.
The high rate of teen pregnancy in Texas has immediate and long-term public costs that show up in high school dropout rates, Medicaid and TANF expenditures, poverty rates, incarceration rates, and lost tax revenue. Two Texas charter schools are currently implementing a school-based program to reduce the high rate of teen pregnancy and STD infection. The program, Making Proud Choices, is an evidence-based curriculum providing youth the knowledge, confidence, and skills needed to reduce the risk of STDs and pregnancy through emphasizing abstinence or condom use.
Dr. Cynthia Osborne’s outcome evaluation of Making Proud Choices has initial indicators that pregnancy prevention instruction is necessary for schools. Preliminary results from baseline surveys of students about to enroll in Making Proud Choices suggest that school-based efforts may be a promising environment for pregnancy prevention programs. Although girls are more likely than boys to discuss sensitive sexual matters with their parents, most students are not talking with their parents or other adults about abstaining from sex, methods of birth control, or how to say “no” to sex. A majority of students also agreed that school is a caring, encouraging environment. Such high rates of agreement suggest that school may be a positive space for students to learn about delaying sexual activity and preventing pregnancy if they are not receiving the information at home. As the evaluation of Making Proud Choices continues, the results should provide evidence of about whether the school-based teen pregnancy prevention curriculum is effective at impacting students’ attitudes, knowledge, beliefs, and behavior here in Texas.