black teen pregnancy ratesAs the mom of a teenage girl and another girlpie well on her way to becoming one, this news feels like the Fourth of July: the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy says Black teen pregnancy rates fell 51 percent between 1990 and 2009.

Campaign CEO Sarah Brown says the massive drop is due to three factors: more teens are waiting to have sex; teens are reporting fewer sexual partners, and; teens are using contraception more. “In short, the credit for this remarkable national success story goes to teens themselves,” said Brown.

Still, Brown took us adults to task for not giving our kids credit, noting that nearly half of Americans “incorrectly believe the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. has increased over the past two decades.”

This could be because at every turn, social conservatives—from the big-mouthed-but-clueless hypocrites in Congress to the loud-mouths-out-for-ratings TV and radio talking heads to your nutty neighbor next door—shout from the rooftops that American women, women of color specifically, are nothing more than promiscuous harlots sucking the system dry to support kids we can’t afford to raise. Those same mouthpieces are the ones who cheer on cuts to the federal food stamp program, welfare and Medicaid—programs that provide a safety net to our most vulnerable: children—all while spending their every waking moment trying to dismantle sexual health and reproduction programs and obliterate our lawful rights to reproductive choice.

The very face of those attacks is young Black women—teens included. So it makes sense that Americans are deluding themselves into thinking our daughters are promiscuous, fertile hookers just one hot-and-heavy sex session away from making a gang of babies.

Give some of us parents credit, though. I’ve been vociferous in my advocacy for MyBrownBaby readers to get over the fear of talking candidly to the babies about sex in age-appropriate ways. Our award-winning “Let’s Talk About Sex” series, part of a campaign with Planned Parenthood, did wonders for giving us parents the tools to communicate with—and listen to!—our children as we help them understand their bodies, their sexuality and, yes, the responsibility that comes with planning their families and futures. A lot of you made clear that it made you uncomfortable, but that you were listening. And our kids are better for it.

So keep talking. Keep agitating. Keep on protecting our rights to plan our parenthood by keeping contraceptives available and accessible (like teen access to Plan B, for instance) and letting our leaders know that, as women, we demand they keep their hands off the laws and programs that give all of us—teens included—reproductive choice. Yup!

I invite you to check out the “Let’s Talk About Sex” series in its entirety and to share it with every parent you know. Together, we can raise children who are informed, smart and proactive about their sexual and reproductive health—the surefire way for them to make good choices for their bodies and their lives.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. Warning: this is controversial. I don’t know what your thoughts are about this, and are the *facts* about black teen pregnancy correct or planned parenthood propaganda? I’ve heard a lot of blacks and abortion, ethnic cleansing and basically genocide. Almost 1/2 of all abortions performed in NYC are on black children. I would like to know what your thoughts are on this. there is a link to a pdf that supports this..

    • Siegrid,

      I don’t consider what you’re saying to be controversial. I think it’s your opinion and you have the right to choose what you want to do with your reproductive rights. However, I do not subscribe to anything Allen West has to say, and I especially don’t consider a Black woman’s right to plan when she’ll become a parent “genocide.” As for the numbers cited here: they didn’t come from planned parenthood. They came from the CDC and other reputable sources that actually track such things (nationally, BTW—and not just in NYC, which is what your link is showing).

      • Actually, I didn’t give my opinion, just restating things I read and I wanted to know what your thoughts were on it. Thanks again.

        • Siegrid, let’s not play games. You don’t leave comments about “genocide” and “propaganda” and “ethnic cleansing” and, good God, Alan West, if you haven’t already formed an opinion. Those words are all dog whistles for people who are anti-abortion. As I stated, that is your right. And I think I was pretty clear about what my thoughts on the subject are.

          • You’ve got me all wrong, no I just like to ask questions and get opinions. I have heard these things lately, so I wanted to confront it to see some opposing views. I’d never heard those views before, so I wanted to get an opinion from someone who was writing about it.

  2. I completely cosign Denene….Controversial opinion: As long as teen pregnancy rates are low, I really could not care less about abortion rates. As long as science says an embryo is not a human being, abortion is not murder. Period.

    I’m tired of hearing these random black men decry abortion rates and framing it as genocide, while remaining completely silent on absentee fathers and black-black crime. And I don’t even have time for these women who say abortion is “against the bible” but act crazy when I ask what it says about premarital sex.

    I am glad to see that young black women are getting it and not choosing too trap themselves into losing situations. Certainly, keeping the number of blacks up is not a valid reason for a teenage girls to dramatically alter the course of her life to have a baby. Black women are not obligated to be thrown up on the cross, some of us may spend a lot of time in church, but we are not Jesus Chirst.

  3. This is because no matter how much schools and some parents try to keep their kids away from information, it’s still out there. Laci Green, Dr. Doe, PenicilliumPusher, Scarelteen, Planned Parenthood, all kinds of great resources exist where they’re easy to find. And teens who find this information get it to their peers. I myself handed out condoms to my classmates in high school. I was a weird kid though. But yeah. For the most part, teens are more informed and responsible than adults give them credit for.

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