Teen Pregnancies on the Rise February 8, 2010Posted by Renee in Healthcare, Prevention, Uncategorized, Wellness.
A new report from the Guttmacher Institute was released January 26, 2010 with surprising data on teen pregnancy. According to the report from the Guttmacher Institute approximately 7% of teen girls became pregnant in 2006, which is a 3% rise from 2005. There is an issue, a problem, whatever term you want to use, but no matter what we call it: teenage girls in the United States are getting pregnant at increasing rates and something needs to change.
Keep reading to find out more about the rise in teen pregnancy.
Last week the Washington Post published an article on the rise in teen pregnancy. The article discusses the release of new data from the Guttmacher Institute, which stated that not only has the decline in the teen pregnancy rate reached a plateau, it has now begun to rise for the first time since the early 1990s. According to the Guttmacher Institute the teen pregnancy rate among 15-to-19-year-olds increased 3 percent between 2005 and 2006. This has translated to a 4% increase in teen births and a 1% increase in teen abortions. There had previously been a steady decline in the teen birth rate for the last fifteen years. Click here to read more of the Guttmacher Institute’s report, U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity.
Of course the blame game immediately begins: “it’s the media’s fault,” “abstinence only education isn’t working,” “giving teens birth control is bad,” “Hollywood has glamorized teen pregnancy.” We have heard it all. Each group wants to blame the other and instead of science people pull in their personal beliefs and personal morals. Two days after the Washington Post reported on the new data a question was put forth by the Post’s health blog, the Check Up, questioning the media’s involvement. They are now questioning if TV and movies are to blame for the increase.
Blaming the media is a cop-out if you ask me. We are responsible for teaching our youth and just telling them not to have sex is unrealistic and unsuccessful. TV shows and movies that show sex between teenagers aren’t new. In 2009, MTV responded to all of this by creating a show about real teens having babies called Sixteen and Pregnant, which was followed up with Teen Mom. These shows do not glamorize teen motherhood in anyway and actually show how difficult it is. However oversaturated the airways are with reality TV shows, these have been successes and provided real teaching moments according to the GM of MTV, Stephen Friedman discussed during the “Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds” panel discussion at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Scientific evidence exists and we need to use this information to protect and help our youth. Teenage girls should not be getting pregnant. Successful programs exist. Advocates for Youth, a DC non-profit works with youth to help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. They also provide a publication series called Science and Success, which shares 26 successful U.S.-based programs that have been proven effective at delaying sexual initiation or reducing sexual risk taking among teens. These aren’t ideas or pilot projects anymore; these programs have been proven successful. Why aren’t we implementing more of them?
In a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in 2008 comparing the effects of abstinence only and comprehensive sexual education, the authors conclude:
Teaching about contraception was not associated with increased risk of adolescent sexual activity or STD. Adolescents who received comprehensive sex education had a lower risk of pregnancy than adolescents who received abstinence-only or no sex education.
Teen pregnancy is on the rise, we know how to successfully delay sexual initiation and teach safe-sex practices.
The Guttmacher Institute’s director of domestic research, Lawrence Finer states
It is clearly time to redouble our efforts to make sure our young people have the information, interpersonal skills and health services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to become sexually healthy adults.
I couldn’t agree more with what Lawrence Finer said and truly believe we do a disservice to our youth by not giving them comprehensive sexual education. Teach abstinence, just not abstinence-only. Teach about contraceptives, but don’t limit young girls to one choice. Teens need to be informed and need to be able to make a decision for themselves. No matter what we do teens are having sex and to not recognize that is incomprehensible to me. This report should be an eye-opener and demonstrate the need to act before the teen pregnancy rate increases more.