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Oklahoma teen birth rates decline, non-profit attributes education

Amplify Youth Health Collective sexual wellness boothing table
Facebook.com / Amplify Tulsa
Amplify Youth Health Collective sexual wellness boothing table

Teen birth rates in Oklahoma have declined due to an increase in education and resources, according to a Tulsa non-profit.

In 2014, Oklahoma ranked second in the nation for the highest teen birth rate, more than 1.5 times the national average. Ten years later, new data from the Center for Disease Control shows a significant improvement.

Data showed a 12% decline in teen births in the state from 2021 to 2022, dropping from the 4th highest in the nation to the 5th.

Heather Duvall, executive director of Amplify Youth Health Collective, a Tulsa nonprofit advancing youth wellbeing, attributes the decline to young people being better equipped with education and healthcare services.

“We are putting strong policies and best practices in place so that young people have access to the information and resources they need to be able to make the healthiest decisions for themselves,” Duvall said.

Duvall said when teens are introduced to positive sexual health and wellness practices, they can make informed choices that ultimately lead to their success.

“When someone younger has unplanned pregnancies, the more obstacles they are going to see,” Duvall said. “Those younger ages that have access to that information can make informed decisions and go on to achieve opportunities without those obstacles.”

Duvall said many Oklahomans still live in areas without sex ed and healthcare services.

Currently, Oklahoma schools are not required to teach sex ed and the only mandated subject for sex ed is HIV and AIDS prevention instruction.

Duvall said Amplify makes efforts to connect with local leaders, such as health departments, teachers, and parents, to provide training and resources for implementing supportive sex education.

“Young people should have access to sexual health education that is medically accurate, that is inclusive, that is non-shaming and that talks about a variety of topics,” Duvall said.


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Anusha Fathepure is a summer intern at KOSU as part of the Inasmuch Foundation's Community Fellowship Class.
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