Teen Pregnancy is Up
Remember in the nineties when programs created to decrease teen pregnancy were all the rage, promoted by high-powered celebs like Jane Fonda? Given the proven correlations between poverty and teen parenting, it was a cause that really made sense.
We don't hear much about these programs today for a myriad of reasons. For one thing, youth development strongly advocates from the position that youth aren't problems to be solved, they are resources to be developed. That means you don't spend time telling girls how not to get pregnant. Compelling youth programs enable girls to understand the wealth of possibilities open to them, possibilities deeply compromised if they become parents. Another reason is that there have been substantial declines in teen pregnancy:
According to information provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, "From 1990 to 2002, the pregnancy rate among 15- to 17- year-olds decreased 42%, from 77.1 per 1,000 females to 44.4.2."
The causes for this decline, according to the CDC?
Recent data show that 77% of the decline in teen pregnancy rates among U.S. teens aged 15-17 years is because teens have increased their use of contraception and 23% of the decline is because teens are having less sex.7 Among older U.S. teens, 18-19 years, this data showed that all the reduction in pregnancy risk was related to increased contraceptive use.7 Effective pregnancy prevention programs exist that have been shown to be successful at delaying intercourse initiation and increasing rates of contraceptive use. For example, Advocates for Youth* has published reports which highlight U.S. -based programs, Science and Success: Sex Education and Other Programs That Work to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, HIV & Sexually Transmitted Infections.* Although this is encouraging, much work remains to identify additional innovative interventions that address the social, cultural, and environmental influences on teen pregnancy. There is also a need to find better ways of disseminating evidence-based approaches to teen pregnancy prevention, so that effective interventions are more widely used.
Unfortunately, we may be at the end of that decline and headed for an increase according to a new report from the CDC: The birth rate among American teens (ages 15 to 19) rose 3 percent between 2005 and 2006 - the first increase since 1991 - according to statistics released in December by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jane Fonda, are you there? It's me, Margaret.