Hennepin County officials say 702 teenage mothers gave birth in the county in 2011, the latest year of reported figures.
That’s 154 fewer than in 201o and continues a steady decline that began in 2008.
Officials attribute the decline to county programs “that divert teenagers from risky behaviors or aim to help them stay safe and healthy once they become sexually active.”
Among the county-sponsored programs are:
- supports for evidence-based,comprehensive sexuality education
- targeted and specialized health care
- youth service and leadership programs that open the lines of communication between youth and trusted adults
“This data show that when we provide supports to young people, they make smart decisions for themselves,” said Katherine Meerse, director of the county’s It’s Your Future project.
Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat said:
“The decline in teen births in Hennepin County shows that our efforts continue to be effective . While teen pregnancy remains a critical issue for Hennepin, the data clearly tells us that when you provide kids with comprehensive education and proper access to health services, it will save taxpayer resources years into the future – and help set them up to reach their full potential.”
The county report shows that in 2011 there were 359 births to teen mothers in Minneapolis and 346 in the rest of the county. The total includes 13 mothers who were younger than 15.
Overall teen births in 2007 were 1,189, and the totals have dropped steadily each year since.
The county report says teen births can be costly, socially and economically:
Teen mothers are more likely than non-parents to drop out of school, live in poverty, and rely on public assistance. In fact, more than half of all human services spending in Minnesota goes to families that began with a teen parent, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and multiples of that in lost potential for young people. Children born to teen mothers are at higher risk for infant death, childhood health problems, cognitive and emotional delays, school struggles and a cycle of teen parenthood multi-generational poverty.