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1/3 of Teen Mothers Do Not Earn a HS Diploma or GED

Teen age pregnancy continues to make headlines with Sarah Palin’s daughter announcing that she would be abstinent until marriage.  This is after she bore a child while a teenager.  Data indicate that abstinence doesn’t work with teenagers.  A new report from New Child Trends indicates that 34 percent of young women who had been teen mothers did not earn a high school diploma or a GED, compared with only 6 percent of young women who had not had a teen birth.

Among the other findings presented in a fact sheet entitled Diploma Attainment Among Teen Mothers:

Slightly more than one-half (51%) of teen mothers received a high school diploma by the age of 22, compared with 89 percent of young women who had not given birth during their teen years.

A higher proportion of teen mothers earned a GED (15 percent) than did their counterparts who had not experienced a teen birth (5 percent).

Younger teen mothers are less likely than older teen mothers to earn a diploma.  Among young women who had a child before the age of 18, only 38 percent earned a high school diploma by the age of 22, compared with 60 percent of those who were 18 or 19 at the time that they had their first child.

Black teen mothers are more likely than Hispanic or white teen mothers to earn a diploma or GED by age 22.  More than two-thirds (67 percent) of black women who had a child before the age of 18 earned either a high school diploma or GED, compared with 55 percent of white women and 46 percent of Hispanic women in this category.

Data used in this study were drawn from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-1997 Cohort.

With the nation’s increased emphasis on increasing graduation rates, stopping teenage pregnancy would seem to be a topic of discussion in homes as well as schools. Giving birth as a teenager determines the rest of a child’s life script.

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