Lowest Rates Since 1946
Teen birth rates by age, race, and Hispanic origin were the lowest on record in 2010 and the lowest they’ve been since 1946, the National Center for Health Statistics said in a new report. The number of babies born to teenagers declined 9 percent from 2009 to 2010 (34.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19) and 44 percent from 1991 through 2010. Black and White teenagers saw identical declines of 9 percent, while American Indians, Alaska Natives, Hispanics, Asians, and Pacific Islanders saw a 12-13 percent decline.
“Rates tended to be highest in the South and Southwest and lowest in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, a pattern that has persisted for many years,” the report said. “Some of the variation across states reflects variation in population composition within states by race and Hispanic origin.”
Contraception and Sex Education Work
Dr. John Santelli, a professor of clinical population and family health at Columbia University told The New York Times Well blog that increased contraception usage has made the biggest difference. “In the ’90s, it was the big increase in condom use; most recently it looks like it’s an increase in the use of oral contraceptives, the patch and perhaps even the IUD.”
“There was a major change in public messaging about teenage sexual activity and condom use,” Rebecca A. Maynard, a professor of education and social policy at the University of Pennsylvania told The Times. “The former was fueled by the abstinence education advocates and the latter by public health concerns about the high rate of sexually transmitted disease among teens.”
Teen STD Rates Still at ‘Historic’ High
Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, told Baptist Press the new numbers reflect a variety of factors including “family structure, parental expectations, socio-economics and type of sex education.” She also said sexually transmitted disease rates remain “at historic highs.”
“Even though the STD rate among teenagers is at an all-time high, the NAEA found a 1:24 disparity in federal funding of abstinence education compared to contraceptive-centered programs. From 2007 to 2012, the funding gap between the two is more than $4.2 billion — $675.9 million to $4.9 billion. The most recent budget proposal by President Obama recommends only 4 percent of sex education dollars be spent on abstinence-based programs,” Baptist Press reported.
American Teens Have Twice as Many Babies
Additionally, U.S. teens still have twice as many babies as 20 other industrialized nations, The Washington Post WonkBlog reported. The reasons cited are more economic inequality in the United States, lower contraceptive usage among American teens, and higher abortion rates abroad.
Teen pregnancy costs an estimated $10.9 billion annually and only 50 percent of teen moms will earn a high school diploma by age 22,.
“We are in a woeful shape,” television’s Dr. Drew Pinsky told CBS News’ HealthPop. “The strange thing about the entirety of the sexual revolution is that no one even thought this sexual revolution thing hoisted by adults was raining down on teenagers and young adults. It’s had dire, dire consequences.”
What do you think?
Should sex education for teens be comprehensive or abstinence only?