The dramatic decline in the teen birth rate in Berkshire County testifies to a lot of educational hard work by people and agencies. It translates into a brighter future for many young people.
The birth rate among 15- to 19-year-old females declined by 54 percent in the county from 2009 to 2014, according to state Department of Health statistics. This includes a 57 percent decline in Pittsfield and 63 percent drop n North Adams. Both the county and state rates of teen births are below the national rate (Eagle, December 10).
For too many years teen pregnancy was addressed, if it was addressed at all, through lectures about abstinence, and the numbers attested to the failures of this approach. Today, organizations like Tapestry Health, which works with the Berkshire United Way, provide educational information, counseling and family planning services. This assistance, which is offered to boys as well as girls, is provided individually and by Tapestry councilors in visits to Berkshire high schools.
Teen mothers often drop out of school, and without the education needed to acquire stable jobs they must rely on state and federal assistance, which is paid for by taxpayers. Lowering the teen birth rate makes good economic sense, and success aside, this effort must continue, with necessary government funding.