Some States Help College Students Avoid Unplanned Pregnancies

Arkansas and Mississippi are taking bold steps to help college students avoid unplanned pregnancy.  In an excellent article published on Pew’s Stateline, reporter Sophie Quinton travels to Jackson, Mississippi to see how the state’s innovative legislation is being implemented, and shares perspectives from leaders in Arkansas and Mississippi about why they are tackling this topic and how it supports college completion goals.  

Read an excerpt from the article below...

At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, the 11 students in Carol Jussely’s “Essential College Skills” class were talking about sex.

Crammed into school chairs and clustered in groups of three or four, they leaned together to confer and then shouted out answers to trivia questions like, “Fact or fiction: You can’t get pregnant from having sex in a hot tub.”

Mississippi has among the highest teen-pregnancy rates in the country, and the teens most likely to get pregnant are college-age. So in 2014, the state passed a law that requires public colleges like Hinds Community College here to teach students how to avoid unplanned pregnancies. Arkansas passed a similar law last year.

Lawmakers in both conservative, Bible Belt states have fought for years over whether and how high schools should teach students about sex. Yet the new laws, which affect legal adults, were surprisingly uncontroversial.

And amid a national push to increase the share of Americans who have a postsecondary certificate or degree, other states and college systems are paying attention. Seven percent of community college dropouts leave because of an unplanned pregnancy, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. 

Like most community colleges, Hinds doesn’t collect data on why students stop showing up for class, and it’s not clear if unplanned pregnancies are widespread or a major risk factor for dropping out.

Keep reading on Pew Charitable Trust

Authored by: Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane is the Vice President for Policy and Strategic Partnerships at The National Campaign.  She is responsible for The National Campaign’s public policy program, as well as forging strategic partnerships with a range of public and private sector organizations.  During her time at the Campaign, she has helped launch The National Campaign’s work with community colleges, youth in foster care, and with Latino communities.

From 2001 through 2008, she was also affiliated with the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children and Families in various capacities. Before joining The National Campaign in 2001, Andrea served at the White House Domestic Policy Council as a special assistant to President Clinton. She has also worked at the National Governors’ Association, and at the state and local level in California, Texas, and Virginia.

She studied Government at Smith College, received a BA from Cornell University and an MPA from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

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