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Milwaukee Reports Big Decrease in Teen Pregnancies

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says the city has met and exceeded its goal to reduce the teen pregnancy rate earlier than expected.

The city announced five years ago that it was seeking to reduce the teen pregnancy rate by 46 percent by 2015. The goal has been met three years early.

The latest data shows that Milwaukee’s effort has already exceeded its goal in decreasing teen pregnancy.  The overall rate has dropped to just over 25 births per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17.  And in that time, all the major demographic groups saw dramatic declines.

Credit Milwaukee Health Department/Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Teen Pregnancy rates have dropped drastically in the past seven years.

Tom Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee, says there are two factors for the success: using the goal marker to inspire community investment, and getting teens to be part of the initiative.

He says it is a macro problem that needed a micro solution. The micro solution: reaching out to girls and boys.

“You can have a community-wide approach that is centered on sitting in a board room and talking about the problem,” Barrett says. “Or you can have people who are in the trenches, who on a daily basis are working with these young people. And I hope that we’re changing the cultural conversation.”

The initiative began after a 2005 United Way survey found Milwaukee continued to have a high teen pregnancy rate, continuing a decades-long trend.

By achieving its goal three years early, the city will take time to reflect on their success, but will also consider changing its goal, as Barrett says the work is not yet complete.