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CA Successful in Dramatically Reducing Teen Birth Rate

There are few more coupled variables in societal statistics as poverty and teenage pregnancy. For better or worse, poverty leads to teenage pregnancy, which leads to poverty. It is a vicious circle, but one that we have some very potent tools to prevent.

And California has been doing much to combat teenage pregnancy. Consider the following:

In 2011, the birthrate for teenage girls in California dropped to its lowest level since 1991, a state report released Wednesday announced.

Twenty-eight children were born in the state for every 1,000 teenage girls, a sharp decline from 1991 when the rate peaked at 70.9 births for every 1,000 teenage girls. (LA Times 7/17/13)

In addition to comprehensive sex education programs in our schools, the state has been making efforts to reach youth using new tools and where they are. But even more than that, California has adapted its programs to general best practices. Amanda Marcotte looks at what works and what doesn't, it shouldn't really surprise too many people if they think about it for a minute.

What works: Comprehensive sex education that doesn't flinch from addressing specifics. California has been a major success story on the teen birth front, getting their birth rate down from 70 births per 1,000 in 1991 to 28 in 2011. A huge part of their success has been implementing comprehensive sex education across the state, requiring schools not just to educate students about the existence of contraception but also explain the specifics of how to use it. ...

What works: Youth programs designed specifically with teens' actual needs in mind. Another part of California's success was implementing various programs, often outside of schools, that reached teenagers on their own level. (Daily Beast)

We still have a ways to go before we catch up with Canada or Western Europe, but California is on the right track. We could always use more money to reach more children, but our goals and our methods are sound. The results speak volumes for evidenced based social programs, and the sound public policy results we can get if we spend a little money up front.

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