As teenage pregnancy rates are decreasing in the United States, rates in the Dominican Republic are soaring.
In this Caribbean country where abortion is illegal under any circumstance, more than one in 10 teenage girls became pregnant in 2013—double the world average and triple the United States average. Along with poverty and the Dominican Republic's legal sex trade, these figures are mostly attributed to the lack of sexual education at home and in schools.
Teenagers are simply advised, mostly by parents, to not have sex, but are rarely taught about it. Though trends in the country’s developing cities differ from the mountainous rural regions, one remains constant: Teenage pregnancy is everywhere.
To counteract these alarming figures, the country’s government is launching a national plan to decrease and prevent more adolescent pregnancies. The initiative, set to launch in January 2015, will require all public schools to teach sexual education.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale student fellows Jennifer Gonzalez and Luke Nozicka travel to the Dominican Republic to document the lives of these girls and attempts to reduce the number of pregnant teenagers.