According to the New York State Department of Health (2013), the rate of teenage pregnancy in Bronx was 97.4 per every 1,000 teenage females between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2011. That number is significantly lower than the rate of 136.4 pregnancies per 1,000 teenage females, but Bronx alone has the highest prevalence of teenage pregnancies when compared to entire New York City, which recorded a 69.9 teenage pregnancy rate per 1,000 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19.
According to Kost and Henshaw (2013), teen pregnancy rates in New York are the highest among African Americans (129 per 1,000) and Hispanics (121 per 1,000) while the rate of pregnancies for non-Hispanic Whites is low (37 per 1,000). The differences among those rates can be attributed to cultural differences. For example, a survey of middle school students in Bronx showed that Hispanics will more often feel that it is better to have sex only after marriage and they will believe having sex results in a bad reputation, whereas African Americans will often hold opposite beliefs (Waddell, Orr, Sackoff, & Santelli, 2010). Because most of the population in Bronx is Hispanic, with more than 50% of its residents Hispanic or Latino population, there are more instances of teenage pregnancies among the Hispanic population.
The socio-economic status of the residents in Bronx is low. According to Waddell et al. (2010), South Bronx has a poverty rate of 40 percent and 50 percent of its residents did not graduate from high school. Overall, 30.3 percent of population in Bronx is below poverty level, which is significantly higher than the 16.1 percent poverty level in the entire New York State. It is suggested that teens from high poverty areas with fewer education opportunities and more disorganization will more often engage in sex at a young age and become pregnant because of poor protection measures (Waddell et al., 2010).
The readiness to learn among teenage mothers in Bronx, NY is questionable, but it may be high if they are given the appropriate social support. While some will repeat their pregnancies, others will drop out of high school and fail to obtain a general education diploma (GED), and only few teenage mothers will continue their education and career after giving birth. According to Martin et al. (2013), 6% of girls between the ages 15 and 17 will experience a subsequent pregnancy while 18% of girls between the ages 18 and 19 will give birth to a second child.
In terms of education, only 2% of teen mothers will finish college by the time they are 30 years of age (Shuger, 2012). Furthermore, 30% of teenage girls dropping out of high school mention pregnancy as their reason, and 34% of those girls will never obtain a diploma or GED. However, lack of support is a critical issue for teenage mothers. Even though school drop-out rates are high for teenage mothers, Shuger (2012) does not clarify the role of discrimination in choosing to drop out of school after pregnancy. Discrimination against pregnant teens is a violation of the federal law, but schools often resort to suspensions, penalties, and expulsions. Overall, this type of environment indicates a lack of social support available to existing teenage mothers.
Only few organizations, such as A Young Mother’s D.R.E.A.M., are dedicated to mentoring teenage mothers and providing scholarships to help them earn college diplomas. Other environmental health campaigns mainly emphasize the role of sexual education in preventing teenage pregnancies, but public campaigns in NYC are usually counter-productive because they are disrespectful towards existing teenage mothers and insult their human dignity.
Kost, K., & Henshaw, S. (2013). U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity. Retrieved from http://www.guttmacher.org/ pubs/USTPtrendsState08.pdf.
Martin, J.A., Hamilton, B.E., Ventura, S.J., Osterman, M.J.K., Kirmeyer, S., Wilson, E., & Matthews, T.J. (2012). Births: Final data for 2010. National Vital Statistics Reports, 61(1). Retrieved from http://http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_01.pdf [August 2012]
New York State Department of Health. (2013). Bronx County Teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 females aged 15-19 years. Retrieved from http://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/chac/birth/ b13_58.htm
Shuger, L. (2012). Teen pregnancy and high school dropout: What communities are doing to address these issues. Washington, DC: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and America’s Promise Alliance.
Waddell, E. N., Orr, M. G., Sackoff, J., & Santelli, J. S. (2010). Pregnancy risk among black, white, and Hispanic teen girls in New York City public schools. Journal of Urban Health, 87(3), 426-439.