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  • Teen Births - Not the Real Issue in Unwed Childbearing

    U.S. teen births are at historic lows.

    Following what has been a generally steady trend over the last two decades, the teen birthrate once again saw declines in 2010, according to a new report from the U.S. Center for Health Statistics (CHS).

    The data show that 16 states saw notable declines in teen births since 2007, ranging from 20 percent to 29 percent. In 31 states, the rate dropped by at least 8 percent. And teen births dropped among all races. Notes The Washington Times: “In three groups of teens—blacks, American Indians, and Alaska Natives and Asian and Pacific Islanders—the 2010 rates were more than 50 percent lower than the 1991 peak.”

    Because of the decreases of the last two decades, notes the CHS report, approximately 3.4 million fewer babies were born to teen mothers (of which nearly all would have been to single mothers).

    Fewer unwed births to these young women is good news, but this decline unfortunately does not translate to an overall reduction in unwed births. In fact, while teen births have gone down, the unwed birthrate has climbed by more than 45 percent since 1990. In 1990, 28 percent of births were to single mothers, whereas in 2010 that number exceeded 40 percent.

    This is because teens account for only a small portion of unwed births, especially if only considering high school girls. While less than 8 percent of unwed births are to girls under 18, nearly 75 percent are to women between 18 and 29. Rather than a teen issue, the majority of unwed childbearing is a result of the breakdown of marriage relationships among young men and women in lower-income communities.

    The breakdown in marriage is driving the growth in unwed childbearing, accounting for headlines such as that reported by The New York Times last month, which heralded that the majority of all births in the United States to women under age 30 are to single mothers, a 56 percent increase since 1990. The majority of these are to women with a high school diploma or less.

    The increase in unwed births has occurred across all racial groups, where rates currently stand at 29 percent for whites, 53.3 percent for Hispanics, and 72.5 percent for African Americans.

    The breakdown of marriage and the subsequent growth of unwed childbearing should be of major concern, considering its strong association with poverty. Children in single-parent homes are more than five times as likely to be poor as their peers in married-parent homes, and not surprisingly, single-parent families are also much more likely to be dependent on government welfare. Additionally, children raised outside of married-parent homes are at greater risk for a variety of negative outcomes.

    Yet, despite the major growth in unwed childbearing and the problems associated with it, there has been a “pervasive social silence” on this matter. While there is much chatter about teen birthrates, the overriding issues of marriage breakdown and unwed childbearing are too often ignored.

    With more than five decades of nearly steady increases in the unwed birthrate and the growing societal inequality it creates, it is time to stop tiptoeing around this issue. Strengthening marriage requires that all sectors of society take action to reinforce the institution that is most crucial to the prosperity of individuals and to the entire nation.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    20 Responses to Teen Births - Not the Real Issue in Unwed Childbearing

    1. Toady says:

      There's a pervasive silence because the problem is vastly more prevalent among minorities. And criticism of minority behavior is sure to draw accusations of racism or bigotry.

    2. Jessica says:

      When I heard this, my first thought was, "Is the birth rate down because teens are getting pregnant less, or because they're getting pregnant at the same or greater rate, and just getting abortions more frequently, so the actually birthrate decreases?" I can't find any articles that address this.

    3. Leading Edge Boomer says:

      The writer misses the point, at least partially. Many women who want a child have discovered that they do not have to put up with a husband to successfully conceive, bear and raise a child. Yes, change is difficult for many conservative Americans to accept; but they die off, inevitably, and the next generation has a different set of opinions and expectations.

      For a fine set of examples about how things have been going elsewhere in the world, access the Dutch film “Antonia’s Line”, probably only available from your local independent video store.

      • Guest says:

        No one can "successfully" raise a child on there own, man or woman. The negative effects of raising a child without a mother or a father can be ~somewhat~ diminished, but the effects always manifest themselves. Bow to pop-culture social if you dare, like the APA, but volumes are still being written about the negative effects of fatherless or motherless homes.

    4. Rene says:

      Agree with Toady re: the tiptoeing PC line. Progressives have produced a regressive underclass amongst minorities doling out checks to unwed women. There is little done to encourage responsible parenting amongst both the mother and father of these children. Secondly, among the wealthy….an incessant glorification of women having children out of wedlock by choice. In our community we see these children act out in school due to the dysfunctionality within the 'alternative family' thus straining the school counselors and distracting greatly from the academic environment. This should not be confused nor conflated with the right to life issue….obviously the choice for life is a priority. The behavior to which I speak is a purposeful construct of a non functioning non family unit, at either end of the economic spectrum.

    5. silverspoon3 says:

      Mississippi's new Governor (Phil Bryant) has assembled a Task Force to address reduction in teen pregnancies. Our State experiences so many of the nation's highest, the nation's poorist, the nation's "most" titles in every area and we believe that reducing teen pregnancies and often premature births would benefit not only society in general but would free money desperately needed to improve our quality of life. Everyone is affected by poverty,the school dropout population, crime, incarceration costs, and loss of tax paying workers. All of these ills are often related to single parent families, particularly those born to teens.

    6. mommylinda says:

      Charles Murray said it best, when he stated that the "elites" (top 20% of earners and achievers) need to preach what they practice. They are not having children out of wedlock, but they seem to tolerate the behavior from the middle and working classes.
      The elites are not doing anybody a favor with their tolerance. They need to encourage marriage and traditional family formation

    7. Victoria says:

      I beg to differ. I see this happening quite frequently in the white community as well. I see it happen over and over – young, white, unmarried 'couples' living together and having children without benefit of marriage. I am as guilty as anyone else of keeping my mouth shut lest I be deemed 'judgemental'. Rarely do I see these situations turn out well. Occasionally the couple will marry after the child is born, but the marriage seldom lasts, and the child winds up being a hot potato, passed back and forth between the sperm donor and the incubator, because both are too selfish to put the child's needs first, and too selfish to give up any of their 'me time' and be parents.

    8. Dan says:

      Over the years I've seen three of my relatives NOT get married to the fathers of their unborn children because the government would pay them more that way. Each was pretty open about what they were doing and why, two eventually did get married to the guy so obviously marriage was always an option.

    9. Fred Gill says:

      It's a problem everyone simply shrugs their shoulders at. Terrible, yes, but after all what is to be done? I believe it was City that Journal had a nice article last year, written by someone who had returned to his home in New Jersey to be near an ailing parent. He decided to teach for a year or so and received a real education about the extensive support system which is in place to support high school students through pregnancy and early motherhood. It included ho me tutoring, transportation, special stipends and, naturally, full medical coverage. The girls themselves took all this as only as their rightful due. They exhibited no embarrassment over getting pregnant before they had completed high school and laughed at the author's attempts to have them consider some of the consequences of their decisions. "Nobody gets married anymore", one of them said. It is a truly remarkable spectacle to see society twisting itself into expensive knots to make it easy for young women to engage in harmful, nearly anti-social behavior. No one wants to go back to the days of shame and ostracization which attended out-of-wedlock pregnancies before the Sexual Revolution. Yet those consequences, though harsh and intolerant, we're real. Sadly, most of us need the prospect of such consequences to help us avoid the rocks and shoals of youth. And poor kids have more needs to avoid those rocks than well-off kids do.

    10. dunce says:

      This is exactly what the democrats wanted, the only failure in queers.their eyes is that any one gets married except

    11. Ida says:

      Well, really, can't we find a way to blame Obama for this? Surely, that "skinny ghetto crack head" as Brent Bozelle articulated, must somehow be responsible for 20- to 29-year old minority women having children out of wedlock. Perhaps it's his free-wheeling ways, and these women were so short-sighted that all they could see was the vast benefits of receiving welfare, not knowing they are limited, short term, and subject to the whims of the political climate. Just wait until we get President rMoney and it returns to a White House, all those checks will stop and then what will these single mothers do?

    12. alcon says:

      The problem is being reinforced and catered to by the actions of our present administration in Washington and failure of American citizens to rise up and regain control over the things that made our nation a great place to live. Turning our backs on religion, down playing the responsibility of family in child rearing and education, and proving financial reward for a population bent on destroying itself is the real problem. If we continue to promote programs that reward bad behavior, such as free contraceptives, pay, housing, and income for not working, and other social programs not focused on a solution our country will continue to spiral downward.

    13. Mindy says:

      Having children out-of-wedlock is no longer looked down on in today's society, there's no shame anymore. The government promotes it by giving all types of assistance, to the poor single mothers, many are in that situation because of stupid choices ! This insures a guaranteed vote for the democratic party. It's time that people be made to take responsibility for their actions. It's pretty bad when animals are choosier over who to procreate with , than humans. Doesn't say much for us women, does it?

    14. Galen Manapat says:

      Reposted from my own Facebook site.

      The American culture doesn't want morality. Don't tell us what to do with our bodies! We don't want rules! On my own street we have 4 female high school drop outs with babies. Some have two. They claim state food stamps. Who do you think pays for the food stamps? Chart the future of these girls and of their sons and daughters for me. I know that people can change their future. (There is the grace of God) But without education, and without a committed father, many of these girls will be broke and not very happy the majority of their lives.

      Our own family lives by very different values.

      A political party that governs well, understands this, and incentivizes marriage and incentives that help families to stay together. In my memory the democrat party consistently rewards living together without committment and punishes traditional families. The democrat party should be doing the opposite, but then if you are consistently amoral, morality is despised. A country will not hold together long if you despise and devalue the one man, one woman committment model.

    15. Rebecca Gifford says:

      Let us pray for these unwed mothers. Let us pray for their children. Let us pray for our own marriages. The Lord will provide the answers. Help us Lord, not to be angry with these people. You know their hearts, you know their attitudes. Please help us to bring to them your love and your truth. If there is anything good that we can do for them, let us do it.

    16. AMELIA says:

      I DEFINITELY SEE A CORRELATION WITH OUT OF WED PARENTS AND POVERTY. WHAT I DO KNOW IS THAT UNWED PARENTS ARE VERY INSECURE INDIVIDUALS THAT FEAR COMMITMENT AND NEITHER ONE HAS ASSERTIVENESS TO DEMAND A COMMITMENT AS THE BASIS FOR CONTINUING A RELATIONSHIP WHERE STABILITY AND A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP COULD FLOURISH AT LEAST FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILD IN SOME CASES CHILDREN. AS A RESULT OF A LINGERING UNRESOLVED WHERE NEITHER ONE DRAWS THE LINE IN UNSTABLE RELATIONSHIP ONLY EATS AWAY DEEPER AND INTO THE SUBCONSCIOUS OF FEELING WORTHLESS UNTIL OF THEM USUALLY THE WOMEN IS UNABLE TO FUNCTION AND DRAWS THE CHILDREN INTO HER WORLD OF UNCERTAINTY
      BY NOW MOST IMMATURE MEN RUN FROM THIS KIND OF WOMEN LEAVING BEHIND THE FATHERLESS CHILD(DREN).
      WHAT AMAZES ME MOST IS THE FACT THAT SHAME IS NO LONGER PART OF THIS KIND OF EXISTENCE. NOT TOO LONG AGO, AND IN OTHER SOCIETIES, CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCK CARRIED A HEAVY STIGMA, AND WERE OFTEN LABELED AS BASTARDS. OFTEN REJECTED AND WERE FORCED TO HIDE THEIR TRUE IDENTITY IF ALL POSSIBLE. THIS CAUSED PARENTS TO HAVE SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT CHILD BEARING OUT OF WEDLOCK. ESPECIALLY THE WOMEN, IT WAS CONSIDERED QUITE SHAMEFUL AN THE FINGER WAS POINTED THAT THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG FOR ACCEPTING SUCH A DEGRADING ACT. AND IT IS EXCEPT IT HAS BECOME THE NORM.
      JUST LIKE DIVORCED PARENTS WHO BOAST HOW HEROIC IT IS TO RAISE THEIR CHILDREN AS A SINGLE PARENT, WITHOUT REALIZING THAT THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH BOTH OF THEM OR THE MARRIAGE WOULD HAVE SURVIVED. SINCE CHURCHES, SOCIAL SYSTEM, SHRINKS ARE THERE TO REINFORCE THE LIE THEY NEVER GET TO SEE THE SHAME IN IT.

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