Several research projects that examine the sexual attitudes and behaviours of BME groups have been commissioned as part of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, details of which are provided at annex 1. The strategy has also drawn upon routinely collected data to inform our understanding of ethnicity and teenage pregnancy.
The evidence suggests that young people from different ethnic groups are more or less likely to experience teenage pregnancy than others. But establishing the precise impact of ethnicity is difficult because: ethnicity is not recorded at birth registration; BME groups are over-represented in deprived areas where higher rates would be expected; and sexual behaviour, knowledge and attitudes may vary considerably within BME groups.
Data on mothers giving birth under-19, identified from the 2001 Census, show rates of teenage motherhood are significantly higher among young women of ‘Mixed White and Black Caribbean’, ‘Other Black’ and ‘Black Caribbean’ ethnicity. ‘White British’ young women are also over-represented among teenage mothers, while all Asian ethnic groups are under-represented. Girls and young women of Black and Black British ethnicity are also over-represented among abortions under-18. In 2004, Black ethnic groups (which represent around 3 per cent. of all females aged 15-17) accounted for 9 per cent. of all abortions under-18.
The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy has a target to halve the rate of under-18 conceptions by 2010 (compared to the rate in 1998). Between 1998 and 2004 (the latest year for which data are available) the under-18 conception rate fell by 11.1 per cent., to its lowest level for 20 years and the under-16 rate fell by 15.2 per cent. The strategy does not have targets to reduce conceptions among different ethnic groups, although local areas are asked to take account of factors that increase the risk of early pregnancy, including social deprivation, poor educational attainment, living in care and ethnicity, in the delivery of local strategies.