New numbers show South Carolina’s teenage birth rate has dropped more than 60 percent since it’s peak in the early 90’s. The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control that includes a 10% drop from 2013 to 2014.
But there is still one age group, in particular, where a lot more work needs to be done (read on for more on that).
19 years ago Regina Keenan was in church when she realized her life was about to change forever.
“I was praising and worshiping and everything and I was queasy and that’s when I went to the bathroom and that’s when I kind of knew and I started balling my eyes out.”
She was 15 when she had her first son, 17 when she had her second, and could hardly pay for diapers.
It’s a cycle of poverty that the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is trying to end. And today, a win. New data shows a 61% drop since 1991, 77% for African Americans girls, specifically.
We asked Molly Talbot-Metz with the Mary Black Foundation (which helps fund teen pregnancy prevention programs in Spartanburg County) what is the major factor that has contributed to the drop.
“Well I think one thing that we’re doing is connecting young people to their future and helping them see that they have a future and how teen pregnancy gets in the way of that. And we’re doing that through education but also through access to healthcare and contraception.”
Talbot-Metz says Spartanburg County alone, the number of teen births has declined from 600 to 300 a year since 2008.
In the Upstate counties like Union and Cherokee are still more than double the US rate. Spartanburg and Anderson are also still considered to have “higher than average volume of teen births.” But Greenville and Pickens Counties have some of the lowest rates in the state.
The data shows teen pregnancy prevention groups have done a great job in reaching girls ages 15 through 17, but it’s the 18-19 year olds who make up 72% of teen pregnancies in South Carolina. So that will be the big focus moving forward.
Keenan’s first born is now in college.
“I feel like they’re my life report card because they’re awesome.”
She also went back to get her degree to become a health educator.
“This is my passion, it’s an easy fit for me because I wake up and love what I do,” she said.
Today she works for the non-profit Birth Matters to help stop other teens from repeating the same mistakes.