The truth about teen mothers in Orange County

I wrote a post earlier this week about something Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante said about how people in his city shouldn’t be having children.  Somehow that post set off a conversation about teenage mothers in Santa Ana.  One of our readers insisted that someone at Latino Health Access told him that 8 out of 10 teenage girls in Santa Ana end up pregnant out of wedlock.

Well, I called Latino Health Access and I left a message for Ana Carricchi, their Director of Policy.  She responded with a link to a website that has all of this data on it.  And she also broke down some of this information for us.

Here is the truth about teen mothers in Orange County:

  • There were 41,095 births in Orange County in 2005.  Of those, 7.2% were to teen mothers.
  • Latina teens accounted for 84.6% of that total – which means that 6% of the total births can be attributed to Latinas.  This is substantially different from saying that 8 out of 10 Latinas in Santa Ana are going to end up being teen moms.
  • The highest rate of pregnancy amongst teen moms occurred in teens between the ages of 18 to 19.  They were followed by moms between the ages of 15 to 17.  Those 14 and under accounted for .7% of the total.
  • The teen birth rate among Latina teens in Orange County in 2005 was 58.2 – that means 58.2 teens out of 1,000.  That comes to a percentage of 5.82%.  That figure is LOWER than the California rate of 64.3 and the US rate of 82.6.
  • It is estimated that in California only 50% of teen pregnancies result in birth.  The rest result in abortions or miscarriages.
  • Since 1996, the percent of births to teen mothers in Orange County fell from 9.1% to 7.2% in 2005, while the number of births per 1,000 teenage females fell from 54.7 to 27.9, a 49% decline.
  • Hispanic teen birth rates fell 53.8%, going from 126 to 58.2 during those same years.

So there you go.  No, 8 out of 10 teenage Latinas in Santa Ana do NOT get pregnant.  That is a fallacy.  And yes the problem of teens giving birth is getting better over time.  That said, this is a serious matter.  The answer in my estimate is education.  Our schools need to do a better job educating teens about these issues.  And parents need to do their part too.

We have almost 400 liquor licenses in Santa Ana – and one public library.  You think that might be part of the problem?  We need change both at City Hall and at the SAUSD.

Thanks to Ms. Carricchi of Latino Health Access for helping us settle this matter with real data.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.