CDC Report on Teen Birth Reveals Alarming Lack of Sex EducationPosted: April 10, 2014
A new report released by the Center for Disease Control reveals both significant advances and persisting inadequacies in efforts to reduce teen pregnancy nationwide.
Although the United States still has the highest rate of teen pregnancy among Western industrialized nations, the rate has dropped dramatically over the last several decades. The good news is that between 1991 and 2012, births to girls ages 15-19 dropped from 84.1 per 1,000 girls to 29.4 per 1,000 girls.
The CDC report isn’t all good news, though. Among girls ages 15-17, the rates of giving birth are still alarmingly high; about 1,700 births occur to this age group each week. Teen mothers at these young ages are more prone to medical risks, economic and social costs, and are less likely to complete their education.
Many of the factors contributing to the high teen birth rate aren’t hard to identify, either. Among sexually active teenage girls, 83.3% reported having no formal sex education before their first time. This lack of education is alarming, and is clearly failing teens. As a result, most teens are not using the most effective contraception methods available to them; 22% of girls reported that they used no contraception their first time, and only 15% of girls used a moderately or highly effective method of contraception.
Fortunately, these facts reveal that there are clear steps that we can take in order to reduce the startlingly high rate of teen pregnancy in this nation. As Ileana Arias, the CDC’s principal deputy director states, “we are missing opportunities to deliver prevention messages before younger teens begin having sex.” The lesson is clear –better comprehensive abstinence-plus sex education, that includes information on both abstinence and contraception, is absolutely vital for our nation’s teens.