Teen Pregnancy Peaks for Foster Girls in Bible-Belt Texas
The pregnancy rate for girls in the Texas foster care system is at an all-time high, with evidence pointing to inadequate sex-education and resources like condoms as contributors.
Of the 7,090 females ages 11 to 18 in foster care in 2017, 332 were pregnant and 218 were parents. Foster youth are approximately five times more likely to get pregnant compared to all youth.
Religious beliefs and teachings influence whether sex ed and resources are provided. For example, adult professionals who teach safe sex to foster youth fear getting fired for violating what are moral norms. Consequently, teen girls in the foster care system are becoming parents before they can properly support and care for the child.
A law was passed in 2017 allows faith-based agencies to refuse to provide referrals for contraceptives and to turn away LGBTQ parents from fostering or adopting.
By allowing religion beliefs to determine sexual education and practices, children who do not follow those beliefs are marginalized and rather than being cared for in foster homes, they are being denied health care and information about their own bodies.
Rebecca Grant, “Expecting Care,” Texas Observer, Jan. 22, 2019, https://www.texasobserver.org/expecting-care/.
Frida Garza, “The Religious Right in Texas Makes Life Very Difficult for Pregnant Teens in Foster Care,” Jezebel, Jan. 22, 2019, https://jezebel.com/the-religious-right-in-texas-makes-life-very-difficult-1831959353.
Carole Levine. “Foster Care in Texas Engenders Soaring Teen Pregnancy Rates,” Nonprofit Quarterly, 30 Jan. 2019, https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2019/01/30/foster-care-in-texas-engenders-soaring-teen-pregnancy-rates/.
Student Researchers: Cristina Solano, Lesly De Leon, Maria Benitez, Xiomara Vilela (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (Sonoma State University)