Katherine Jarvis, coordinator for the Omaha-based Nebraska Children’s Home Society, says they’re seeing high percentages of teen moms aged 17 and younger, and she uses Madison County in northeast Nebraska as an example.
“The 2012 birth rate to mothers age 17 and under in Madison County was 4.4% and that’s compared to a state rate of 1.8%,” she says.
The study also found the rural teen birth rate across the nation is nearly 44%, compared to 32% in urban counties.
With fewer recreation options, more poverty, reduced access to doctors and clinics, and lower college enrollment, the prevalence of pregnancies is far higher in small town USA. Jarvis says when you extend the age of teen girls up by two years to 19, the birth rate increases dramatically.
“The rate of births to mothers under 19 in Madison County was 9.6% and that’s compared to the state rate of 7.6% between 2008 and 2012,” she says.
While the overall teen birth rates have been falling in both rural and urban areas, the rate of decrease is much slower in rural counties. Fifty-five percent of teens surveyed in rural America said they’d had sex, compared to 40% in metro counties, with many never having used any form of birth control.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton