OBJECTIVES: To outline the prevalence and disparities of teen pregnancy among school-aged urban minority youth, causal pathways through which nonmarital teen births adversely affects academic achievement, and proven or promising approaches for schools to address this problem.
METHODS: Literature review.
RESULTS: In 2006, the birth rate among 15- to 17-year-old non-Hispanic Blacks (36.1 per 1000) was more than three times as high, and the birth rate among Hispanics (47.9 per 1000) was more than four times as high as the birth rate among non-Hispanic Whites (11.8 per 1000). Compared with women who delay childbearing until age 30, teen mothers' education is estimated to be approximately 2 years shorter. Teen mothers are 10–12% less likely to complete high school and have 14–29% lower odds of attending college. School-based programs have the potential to help teens acquire the knowledge and skills needed to postpone sex, practice safer sex, avoid unintended pregnancy, and if pregnant, to complete high school and pursue postsecondary education. Most students in US middle and high schools receive some kind of sex education. Federal policies and legislation have increased use of the abstinence-only-until-marriage approach, which is disappointing considering the lack of evidence that this approach is effective.
CONCLUSIONS: Nonmarital teen births are highly and disproportionately prevalent among school-aged urban minority youth, have a negative impact on educational attainment, and effective practices are available for schools to address this problem. Teen pregnancy exerts an important influence on educational attainment among urban minority youth. Decisions about what will be taught should be informed by empirical data documenting the effectiveness of alternative approaches.