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Racial and Ethnic Minority Tennesseans and Adolescent Pregnancy

Adolescent pregnancy, or teen pregnancy, is an important concern in racial and ethnic minority communities because early childbearing may limit the education and employment opportunities of young mothers. Teen mothers are also more likely to live in poverty. Although adolescent pregnancy rates have declined in recent years, the rate of pregnancy among African-American teens is twice the rate of white teens.

Featured Facts

Facts about adolescent pregnancy in Tennessee:

  • In 2004 the pregnancy rate for 15-17 year old black adolescents in Tennessee (59.4 per 1,000) was more than twice the rate for white adolescents (26.2 per 1,000).i

Factors contributing to adolescent pregnancy:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Lack of family and community support
  • Lack of involvement in school and recreational activities or after school programs
  • Lack of feeling connected to school, family and community
  • Use of alcohol and other drugs
  • Lack of health education
  • Lack of responsible adult guidance
  • Limited knowledge about sex and sexuality

Activities to prevent and reduce adolescent pregnancy:

  • Increased health education
  • More involvement in school and recreational activities or after school programs
  • Increased family and community support
  • Avoiding alcohol and other drugs

i. Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Policy, Planning and Assessment, Division of Health Statistics

Services for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Education

The Tennessee Department of Health is committed to educating communities about adolescent pregnancy prevention. The Department has a number of services that work with communities and families to prevent adolescent pregnancy. Below is a list and description of services offered through the Department or your local county health department.

Abstinence Education: 

The Department of Health's abstinence education program offers informational brochures for parents who are interested in learning how to talk with their children about abstinence, as well as brochures for youth regarding abstinence, building resistance skills, avoiding negative peer pressure, how alcohol and other drugs affect decision making and building self-esteem. For more information, call 1-800-521-TEEN.

Black Health Initiative Programs: 

The Division of Minority Health and Disparity Elimination funds community based organizations that develop demonstration projects targeting African-American and Hispanic youth aged 10 to 19, and offer structured activities focusing on education, health care, violence reduction, appropriate social development, substance abuse prevention and employment and business skills. For more information, call (615) 741-9443.

Targeted Prevention Programs: Intensive Focus Prevention Programs provide structured, intensive eight to 12 session programs targeting youth up to age 18 to prevent the development of alcohol, tobacco or other drug use problems. Programs are age-specific, developmentally appropriate and culturally sensitive, and include a parent/care giver component. For more information, call (615) 741-1921.

Community Prevention Initiative (CPI) Programs: 

These programs target children birth to 12 years and their families who are at greatest risk for teen pregnancy, alcohol and other drug use, violence and dropping out of school. The services may be offered through after- or in-school activities, mentoring, tutoring, student assistance, parent/family education or family care management in designated counties. For more information, call your local health department or call (615) 532-8481.

Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT):

Local health departments in all 95 counties provide well-child EPSDT exams for infants from birth to age one. These exams provide an important opportunity to identify health problems early, assure that children are properly immunized, and provide parents with information on infant growth, development and care. For more information call your local health department.