Thursday, March 26, 2009

Teen birth rates again rise

Last year was the second year in a row that teen birth rates rose. Since 2005, the teen birth rate increased by 2% after 14 years of consistent decline. When it was reported that the teen pregnancy had risen across ethnic groups, popular responses ranged from, “see what happens when abstinence-only is taught in classrooms?” to “see what happens when there’s not enough abstinence-only taught in classrooms?” Of course, youth development professionals know that the issue is far more complex than that. While national and state education policies play an important role in determining what gets taught in the classroom, often the reality is that young people get a steady stream of mixed messages about health and sexuality.

Some adolescent health professionals suggest several reasons for the increases: a possible decrease in the use of contraceptives, socioeconomic changes, and differences in relationships and attitudes are some of the theories. The Obama administration’s intentional shift towards embracing science and evidence-based programming is a welcome development. We know what works: giving young people medically accurate information and supporting them with comprehensive sexuality education, including ways to strengthen relationships with both family and partners.

Want to get involved? Click here to learn more about The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Click here for more information from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and here for research briefs from Child Trends.

1 comment:

  1. One needs to look at not only teen birth rates but teen pregnancy rates. If the pregnancy rates are stable but the birth rates are higher, that could be a good thing. Both young women and those beyond school age need to know that there are more positive options than abortion, and perhaps this is a reflection of that.

    That is not to say that I am against education to lower the teen pregnancy rate, but that there may be more than one way to interpret these statistics.