Let’s hear it for Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)! These two long-time champions of efforts to reduce health disparities and violence among ethnic communities today introduced the “Communities of Color Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act of 2011.” Recognizing the need for a broader approach to address teen pregnancy in communities of color, including the role coercion and violence plays in unintended pregnancy, HR 2678/ S 1437 aims to help young people of color get information and skills they need to build healthy relationships.
In 2009, the teen birth rate for Latinas, African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives was more than double the teen birth rate of non-Hispanic Caucasians. However, disparities in contraceptive use are closely connected to social and economic inequities in communities of color; for example, a Latina girl is three times more likely to be without health insurance than her white counterpart.
New research also shows that teen dating violence and abuse, including reproductive coercion, is associated with higher levels of teen pregnancy and unplanned pregnancy. In fact, adolescent girls in physically abusive relationships are three times more likely to become pregnant than non-abused girls.
The Communities of Color Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act will:
- fund teenage pregnancy prevention program interventions that serve youth in ethnic and racial groups with the highest teen pregnancy rates;
- fund multimedia public education and awareness about teen pregnancy and violence prevention;
- study factors that contribute to disproportionately high rates of teenage and unintended pregnancy in communities of color.
“Dating violence is a growing crisis among our teens ,” said Esta Soler, Founder and President of Futures Without Violence, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund. “Teens in abusive relationships are at significantly higher risk for unintended pregnancy, poor pregnancy outcomes, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. These can be reduced if we teach young people how to create and build healthy relationships.”
Read more about the Communities of Color Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act.