Increased use of birth control and less sex have resulted in the lowest teen pregnancy rates since the United States government began keeping track in 1970, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In 1996, 9.2 percent of African-American teenage girls gave birth, falling dramatically from a birth rate of 30.2% in 1991. U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services Donna Shalala praised the African-American community, saying, “Their strategy of parents, community leaders, religious leaders and schools all sending the same consistent message that young blacks are cutting off their future if they have children is working.”
Birth rates for Hispanic teens dropped from 10.7 percent in 1995 to 10.2 percent in 1996. In 1995, 3.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites gave birth. Experts attribute the dramatic drop in birth rates to less sex and increased use of contraception. Shalala attributes the numbers to poverty and related problems in many minority communities, where many young women feel little hope. She said, “If you think you have a future, you put off having babies.”
Almost one in 10 teenage girls in 1957 gave birth, the highest rate recorded. However, in 1950, only 23 percent of young mothers age 15 to 17 were unmarried. In 1996, 84 percent of teenage mothers were single parents.