The Problem

In the past decade, as teen pregnancy continues to decline across the US, the Teen Birth Rate in Baltimore City remains close to 70/1000, among the highest in the world. [1]

According to more than 50 years of research, being born to teen parents increases a child’s likelihood of dropping out of High School and living in poverty. It also makes them far more likely to end up in jail.

Teen pregnancy is directly related to poverty, but the causal effect is, in fact, the opposite of what we might expect. According to many studies, poverty is the cause. [2]

Almost a third of Baltimore City residents under eighteen years of age live below the poverty line; in 2010 there were 70,000 children with no parent employed full time. [3] Each year, almost 12,000 Baltimore teens become parents, which forces many of those young people to drop out of school. Recent research has shown that over a lifetime a typical high school graduate will earn fifty to one hundred percent more than a non-graduate. Further, with no income or lower income, dropouts contribute less to the economy in tax revenue, are more likely to need public assistance, are less healthy, are less likely to have health insurance, and are more likely to draw upon emergency care.Economists have estimated that effective interventions which reduce high school dropout rates return between $1.45 and $3.55 to society for every dollar of investment. [4]

Many teens want to and can be good parents. Many decades of research have shown that teen parents who get comprehensive support for their physical, emotional and academic needs during and after their pregnancy are better able to graduate, find and keep employment, and support themselves and their families without relying on Social Services. Therefore, high quality aid to these young families has a high potential to raise standards of living in Baltimore by being a multi generational approach to ending poverty.

1. Baltimore City Health Status Report 2008: Maternal and Infant Health. (n.d) Retrieved on October 10, 2012 from http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112189/social-media-doesnt-always-help-social-movements#

2. Stevenson W, Maton KI, and Teti DM.(May 1998) School importance and dropout among pregnant adolescents. J Adolesc Health. 22(5):376-82. Retrieved on Feb 4, 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9589338

3. The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (n.d.). Kids Count Data Center [Data File] Retrieved September 16, 2012 from http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/bystate/stateprofile.aspx?state=MD&cat=891&group=Category&loc=106&dt=1%2c3%2c2%2c4

4. Levin. H.M and Rouse. C. E. (2012, January 26). The True Cost of High School Dropouts. The New York Times. Retrieved on January 18, 2013 from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/opinion/the-true-cost-of-high-school-dropouts.html

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