Oklahoma often lands on the wrong end of rankings of social ills. The problems highlighted are undeniable, but we should not ignore the real progress being made.
Take the National Center for Health Statistics report ranking state rates of teenage births. Oklahoma had the third-highest rate nationally for births to those ages 15 to 17, and ranked first for births to women ages 18 to 19.
While no state wants to be among the top for teenage pregnancies, it’s important to note that Oklahoma’s rate of teen births is declining significantly. While there were 5,233 such births in Oklahoma, that was 545 fewer than the year before and 2,348 fewer than just five years ago.
The rate of births in Oklahoma in 2012 was 47.3 per 1,000 teenagers. That’s well above the national average of 29.4, but that figure also shows that for every 1,000 teenage girls in Oklahoma, nearly 953 did not have a baby. That last statistic, combined with the downward trajectory of teenage births, is reassuring.