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Planned Parenthood: Teen Pregnancy Rates at Record Low in US, But Still Too High

teen pregnancy, teenage pregnancy

Teen pregnancy rates are down, but still high.

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control suggests that teen pregnancy rates in the US are at an all time low.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is, “teen birth rates in America are up to nine times higher than many other developed countries,” according to CBS News.

Only 50 percent of teen moms get a high school diploma by the age of 22, compared to 90 percent of teen girls that don’t give birth.  We know that states that don’t require abstinence education have the lowest teen pregnancy rates, and that (accordingly) teen pregnancy rates are highest in the South.  (The Northeast has the lowest rates of teen pregnancy in the US.)  In Memphis, teen pregnancy had become such a problem, local schools adopted a “No Baby” program to educate girls about how to say no to unprotected sex.

The CDC writes, “TV, music, the Internet, and other popular youth media tend to glamorize teens having sexual intercourse and teen parenting, but the reality is starkly different.”  Take it from one who knows.  Teen mom Bristol Palin teamed up with Jersey Shore‘s The Situation to film a bizarre PSA discouraging teens from having sex and encouraging them to use protection if they do engage in intercourse.  Despite the goofy combo of Palin and Sorrentino, the CDC would like to remind us teen pregnancy is no joke.  Teen births still represent 10% of the 4 million births each year in the US, and Hispanic and black teen girls are about 2—3 times more likely to give birth than white teen girls.

Perhaps most importantly, though, girls born to teen parents are almost 33% more likely to become teen parents themselves, continuing the cycle of teen pregnancy.

US legislators may be culturally divided over the role institutions like Planned Parenthood play in our lives, but the CDC has a refreshingly realistic view when it comes to preventing teen pregnancy.  Their website has great suggestions, including the following:

Health care providers can:

Talk openly to teen boys and girls about how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Provide teen-friendly, culturally-appropriate services for sexual and reproductive health.
Increase the availability of all forms of birth control.
Offer teens long-acting reversible birth control (e.g., IUDs or implants).

Communities can:

Provide opportunities for teens to be engaged in supervised activities after school.
Promote youth development programs that keep teens in school and teach life skills.
Make it easy for teens that are already sexually active to get services, including affordable, effective birth control, other medical care, and sex education that has been proven to work.
Support youth development programs for teens at risk. This includes girls who have already been pregnant, and boys and girls who have a parent or sibling who has been a teen parent, live in foster care, or attend school or programs for troubled teens.

Parents, guardians and caregivers can:

Talk to your teens about delaying sex, avoiding pregnancy, birth control, having respectful relationships, and being aware of dating violence.
Get to know the parents of your teen’s friends and be involved with what’s going on in their lives.
Talk to community leaders about the need for effective programs that prevent teen pregnancy and address overall sexual and reproductive health.

Teens can:

Talk openly about sexual health issues with parents, other adults you trust, and peers.
Resist peer pressure to start having sex. Support friends who make this choice.
Use condoms consistently and correctly each time you have sex.
Learn as much as you can about sexual and reproductive health, so you can make smart decisions about your future.
Enjoy your teen years! Prepare for your best possible future by avoiding the responsibilities that come with pregnancy and parenting.

Source: CBS News

Photo via Flickr

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