[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book I)]
[January 4, 1997]
[Pages 3-4]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
January 4, 1997

    Good morning, and Happy New Year. I look forward to 1997 with great 
optimism. As we enter this new year, I'm preparing to enter my second 
term as your President, committed to continuing our mission of preparing 
our people for the 21st century, meeting our new challenges, and 
strengthening our oldest values. We will work to give our people the 
tools they need to make the most of their own lives, to build strong 
families and strong communities. And as we work to expand opportunity, 
we will also seek responsibility from every American.
    This approach is working. In just 4 years we have replaced trickle-
down economics with invest-and-grow economics, responsibility, and 
opportunity. We've cut the deficit by 60 percent, increased our trade to 
record levels. We have over 11 million new jobs.
    In just 4 years, working with citizens and communities all over 
America to solve our social problems, we have replaced political 
rhetoric with a strategy of giving people the tools to solve their 
problems and demanding responsibility from all of our citizens. It's 
working, too. Crime has dropped for the last 4 years as we work to put 
100,000 police on our streets and take gangs and guns away from our 
children. The welfare rolls have dropped by 2.1 million--that's a record 
reduction--as we work to help people find work but to require them to 
pursue work and education and to be responsible parents.
    But there's still a lot more to do if we're going to make sure the 
American dream is a reality for all of our citizens in the 21st century. 
And we still have some pretty big problems in our society. None stands 
in our way of achieving our goals for America more than the epidemic of 
teen pregnancy. Today I want to talk to you about the progress we've 
made in preventing it and to tell you about the new steps we're taking 
to see to it that our progress carries into the new year and beyond.
    We know many of our social problems have their roots in the 
breakdown of our families. We know children who are born to teen parents 
are more likely to drop out of school, get involved in crime and drugs, 
and end up in poverty; more likely to suffer ill health, even to die as 
infants. And teen parents often find their own lives are changed 
forever. Too many don't finish school, not ever, and therefore they 
never learn the skills they need to succeed as workers and parents in 
our new economy.
    That's why our administration has worked so hard to reduce teen 
pregnancies, to increase responsibility among teen parents, and to 
prepare young people to be good parents at the right time. Last year I 
took executive action to require young mothers to stay in school or lose 
their welfare payments. We challenged members of the private sector to 
take action, and they did, with a national campaign to prevent teen 
pregnancy and community initiatives all over our Nation.
    We're mounting an unprecedented crackdown on child support 
enforcement. Now child support collections are up over 50 percent 
compared to 4 years ago. And we've worked with community-based groups in 
the character education movement in our schools to help parents teach 
young people right from wrong.
    Today we have new evidence that this approach is starting to work. 
Last year we learned that the teen birth rate has dropped for the 4th 
year in a row and that out-of-wedlock birth rates dropped for the first 
time in 19 years. According to a new report by the Department of Health 
and Human Services, the teen birth rates dropped more than 10 percent 
over 3 years in Wisconsin, Washington, and 8 other States. And 
altogether, from 1991 to 1995, the teen birth rate in America has 
dropped by 8 percent.
    The progress we're making on teen pregnancy shows that we can 
overcome even our most

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stubborn and serious problems. Because of the energy and the effort of 
the American people, as I said, the crime rate is dropping, the welfare 
rolls have dropped dramatically, and poverty is down. We can meet our 
challenges if we'll meet them together, in our homes, our communities, 
and as a nation. But let me be clear: The teen pregnancy rate is still 
intolerably high in America. Too many children are still having 
children. So we must do more. As I enter my second term, I want to tell 
you the new and comprehensive steps my administration will take to 
further reduce the number of out-of-wedlock births.
    First, we'll step up support for programs at the local level that 
work, providing $7\1/2\ million for pioneering programs like the one at 
Emory University in Atlanta, where young people teach their peers about 
abstinence and responsibility.
    Second, we'll spread the word about these programs so that what 
works in one community can be tried quickly in more communities.
    Third, we'll forge even stronger partnerships with businesses, 
clergy, and community groups who are committed to dealing with this 
    And fourth, we'll see to it that we use the most up-to-date research 
methods to track teen pregnancy trends. We have to make sure our efforts 
are actually paying off.
    Finally, we'll carry out the strong provisions of the welfare reform 
law I signed last year, which requires teen mothers who receive welfare 
not only to stay in school but to live at home or in an adult-supervised 
setting. It sets up second-chance homes where young mothers who can't go 
home still have a safe place to raise a child and turn their lives 
around. And it institutes the toughest ever child support measures.
    We've made some significant progress in the effort against teen 
pregnancy in the last few years. With the new steps I'm announcing 
today, we'll continue our fight against children having children. All of 
you need to help us send the strongest possible message: It's wrong to 
be pregnant or father a child unless you are married and ready to take 
on the responsibilities of parenthood.
    What we're doing to prevent teen pregnancy as a nation is an example 
of how we can master many of the challenges of our time. The National 
Government cannot solve all our problems, but it can help by giving 
individuals, families, and communities the tools they need to take 
responsibility and solve those problems for themselves.
    As President, I'm committed to marshaling all the forces in our 
society to mobilizing our citizens, our communities, our businesses, our 
schools to meet our challenges. That is the way we will keep the promise 
of America alive for all our citizens as we move into the 21st century.
    Thanks for listening, and Happy New Year.

Note: The President spoke at 10:06 a.m. from the Mahogany Run Golf 
Course in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.