New Report Shows High-Quality Pre-Kindergarten Cuts Teen Pregnancy and Crime

MEMPHIS, Tenn.- According to a statement released by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Tennessee law enforcement leaders have released a new report showing high-quality pre-kindergarten cuts teen pregnancies by as much as two-thirds and prevents future crime.

“High-quality pre-kindergarten can arrest teen pregnancies and lock up crime,” Selby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell said, “Tennessee’s law enforcement community urges our state legislators to increase the state’s investment in early education to make Tennessee safer.”

At a news conference at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center, Luttrell, Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin and District Attorney General William Gibbons released the report High-quality Pre-Kindergarten Can Prevent Teenage Pregnancy And Future Crime in Tennessee. They are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Tennessee, a bipartisan, anti-crime organization of 78 of the state’s police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, other law enforcement leaders, and violence survivors, which prepared the report. Nationally, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids has more than 2,5000 members. Mark Rogers, state director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Tennessee, also spoke at the news conference.

Tennessee has the nation’s 17th highest teen pregnancy rate. In 2003, one in every 18 teenage girls in Tennessee – or 10,300 teenagers – became pregnant. The Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Tennessee report found that if pre-kindergarten were available to all at-risk kids, Tennessee could reduce teen pregnancies by two-thirds or nearly 6,000 births.

When children are born to teenage mothers, their risk of taking up a life of crime are much greater. According to a study cited in the report, sons of teen mothers are more than two and a half times more likely to spend time in prison than sons of older moms. On a national level, if all teen mothers waited until after their 23rd birthday to give birth to their first child, their sons’ incarceration risk would fall by 17 percent and the prison population would decrease by as many as 65,000 inmates.

“High-quality pre-kindergarten puts the brakes on the cycle of teen pregnancy and more crime,” Gibbons said. “If we lock out Tennessee children from pre-kindergarten now, we will lock in more adults in jail later.”

Currently, state and federal pre-kindergarten programs in Tennessee serve only 22 percent of the state’s 4 year olds, forcing many working families to put their children in care that is more like “child storage” than education.

High-quality pre-kindergarten is one of the nation’s most effective programs in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies. A landmark study of the Abecedarian Early Childhood Intervention program randomly assigned half the infants from at-risk families to an early education program. When the kids grew up, the girls who went to the preschool were on average two years older when their first child was born compared to the girls who had not participated in the program.

The High/Scope Perry Preschool Program study in Ypsilanti, Mich., has tracked participants and similar at-risk children who did not participate through age 40. It found that by age 19, only 16 percent of the women who had gone to the Perry Preschool had multiple pregnancies, compared with 29 percent of the women who hadn’t attended. At age 27, only eight percent of the graduates of the preschool program had multiple (three or more) out-of-wedlock births compared with 31 percent of women who were left out of the program. Kids who were left out of the preschool program were five times more likely to grow up to become chronic lawbreakers compared to kids in the program.

Numerous studies have shown pre-kindergarten also saves money. One study found that pre-kindergarten cuts crime, welfare, and other costs so much that it saved more than $7 for every dollar invested.

“Tennessee’s state legislators couldn’t make a wiser investment than increasing high-quality pre-kindergarten,” said Rogers, “For every dollar invested now, Tennesseans will get less crime, more tax savings, and a better workforce for the future.”

Gov. Phil Bredesen has proposed increasing the state’s investment in pre-kindergarten program by $45 million. The law enforcement leaders urged the State Legislature to approve the additional funds to serve more children. Without greater investments in high-quality pre-kindergarten programs, Memphis and Tennessee risk ongoing high teen pregnancy rates and more crime.

“If our state legislators fight for Tennessee’s children by increasing investments in pre-kindergarten, Tennessee’s law enforcement leaders will be right behind them every step of the way,” Godwin said.

For more information, contact Mark Rogers at (615) 415-7504 or go to

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo