Search Penny Hill Press

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Teenage Pregnancy Prevention: Statistics and Programs

Carmen Solomon-Fears
Specialist in Social Policy

In 2009, U.S. teen births accounted for 10.1% of all births and 21.4% of all nonmarital births. The birth rate for U.S. teenagers (ages 15 through 19) increased in 2006 and 2007 after a steady decline since 1991. However, in 2008 and 2009 the teen birth rate dropped below the 2007 teen birth rate, reversing the two-year upward trend. Although the birth rate for U.S. teens has dropped in 16 of the last 18 years, it remains higher than the teenage birth rate of most industrialized nations. In recognition of the negative, long-term consequences associated with teenage pregnancy and births, the prevention of teenage and out-of-wedlock childbearing is a major goal of this nation.

The Adolescent Family Life (AFL) program, created in 1981 (Title XX of the Public Health Services Act), was the first federal program to focus on adolescents. It was created to support demonstration projects that provide comprehensive and innovative health, education, and social services to pregnant and parenting adolescents, their infants, male partners, and their families. From 1998 to 2009, federal teen pregnancy prevention efforts in the AFL program and in general relied heavily on using abstinence-only education as their primary tool.

It appears that a consensus is now growing around the viewpoint that success in the teen pregnancy prevention arena does not necessarily have to be an “either-or” proposition in which abstinence-only education programs are pitted against comprehensive sex education programs. P.L. 111-117 (the Consolidated Appropriations for FY2010) included a new discretionary Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program, funded at $110 million for FY2010, which provides grants and contracts, on a competitive basis, to public and private entities to fund “medically accurate and age appropriate” programs that reduce teen pregnancy.

P.L. 111-148 (the health care reform law) established a new state formula grant program and appropriated $375 million at $75 million per year for five years (FY2010-FY2014) to enable states to operate a new Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), which is a comprehensive approach to teen pregnancy prevention that educates adolescents on both abstinence and contraception to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. PREP also provides youth with information on several adulthood preparation subjects (e.g., healthy relationships, adolescent development, financial literacy, parent-child communication, educational and career success, and healthy life skills).

The Title V Abstinence Education Block Grant to states was authorized under P.L. 104-193 (the 1996 welfare reform law). The Title V Abstinence Education program is formula grant program, specifically for abstinence-only education, funded by mandatory spending. The program’s funding expired on June 30, 2009, but P.L. 111-148 reauthorized the program and restored funding to it at the previous annual level of $50 million for each of FY2010-FY2014.

There are many other federal programs that can provide pregnancy prevention information and/or services to teens. They include Title X Family Planning, Medicaid family planning, the Maternal and Child Health block grant, the Title XX Social Services block grant, the TANF block grant, and several other Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) programs. This report briefly examines some of the data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics on teenage childbearing, offers potential reasons for high teen pregnancy and birth rates, and provides basic information on federal programs whose purpose, in whole or part, is to prevent teen pregnancy and reduce teen births.

Date of Report: February 3, 2011
Number of Pages: 18
Order Number: RS20301
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail
Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.