LatinaLista -- It never made a whole lot of sense that while more Latinas aspired, went and graduated from college than their male counterparts, they still had the dubious distinction of ranking the highest among all girls when it came to U.S. teen pregnancy rates.
The obvious response is that some girls were getting the message and others weren't. True. But now there's proof that something must have filtered through to those other girls.
Today, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics released an analysis showing that pregnancy rates among Latina teens are at a historic low.
The 2008 teen birth rate fell for all racial/ ethnic groups, with the largest declines being seen among Hispanics and Asian/ Pacific Islanders. In fact, the rate for Hispanic teens dropped by 5% or 77.4 births per 1,000, the lowest rate ever reported for this group in the two decades for which rates are available.
While it's definitely news to celebrate, as the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy pointed out, there is still a lot of work to be done to combat the message that getting pregnant is cooler than having a college degree -- especially since:
At present three in ten girls in the U.S. get pregnant by age 20, there are more than 400,000 teen births annually, and this nation is in the unenviable position of having the highest rates of teen pregnancy and childbearing in the industrialized world.
What can be done to ensure that this downward trend is longterm?
The easy answer -- more of the same.
The hard answer -- more of the same.
Open lines of communication between parents and their girls is one of the keys identified by the National Campaign as effectively combatting peer pressure when it comes to early pregnancies.
Yet, talking about sex is the hardest topic to discuss in Latino households because of cultural attitudes, or it used to be. With teen pregnancies interjected into the storylines of shows such as telenovelas to teen family dramas, sex is a topic that is gaining more acceptance as an issue to discuss around the dining room table, or at the least between mother and daughter.
The drop in Latina teen pregnancies also indicates that more Latino parents may be taking off their rose-colored glasses and seeing the realities that surround their daughters by supplying them with condoms or birth control pills.
No one knows for sure why the sudden drop in Latina teen pregnancies but one thing is clear -- the message is getting through that it's much more desirable to walk across the stage shifting the tassle on a mortar board to shaking a baby's rattle.