An encouraging trend in the United States and locally is that births to teenage mothers are declining.
As The Goshen News reported in our Monday edition, in the last eight years the annual birthrate for teen mothers in Elkhart County has declined. In 2004 there were 408 such pregnancies and last year there were 265.
Why this rate is declining is anybody’s guess. It could be that sex education, a part of health education in high schools, is having an impact on teens. Another reason may be the ease at which teens can utilize birth controls, and even abortions. Or it may be that the mores in our county and country are changing to the point of making sex among teens less acceptable.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the national birthrate for teen mothers 15 to 19 years old declined 8 percent from 2010 to 2011 and fell to a historic low of just 31.3 births per 1,000 teenage females.
This drop was part of the overall national fertility decline. The CDC reported there were 3.9 million births in 2011, down 1 percent from 2010. Also, women in general are waiting longer to begin families. The mean age of a woman’s first birth rose to 25.6 years in 2011, up from 25.4 years in 2010, according to the CDC. Back in 1970, the CDC reported the mean age for a mother’s first birth was 21.4 years.
We are glad to see the local and national birth rates for teen mothers decline. It’s a trend we hope continues for a long time. Teens, both male and female can achieve much in their high school academic careers, but when a newborn arrives to those young parents, that young life has to become their new priority.
While we are on the subject of teen births, we would like to point out the foresight of the Goshen school board in creating the day care center at Goshen High School. This center provides the best child care alternative for the children of teen mothers and fathers. By utilizing the service, young parents are able to continue their education while having their children close at hand. We hope the school board continues to support this center, even as the teen birth rate declines. The service should never be about the number of children in the day care, but should center on the individual child’s and parents’ needs.