Teen pregnancy is at an all-time low in the United States, but still higher than in other countries
A body of new research indicates that current teen pregnancy rates in the United States are significantly lower than in previously studied generations. This is due to delayed age of first sexual experience, increased access to contraception, and higher levels of sex education.
Image: Huffington Post
About 79% of girls and 84% of boys use contraception in their first sexual encounter, with the primary method being condoms.
Another factor which could influence this trend is a general change in attitude toward female sexuality.
“In the previous decade, if a girl had a condom with her, there was a fear she’d be called a slut," says Professor Claire Brindis of the University of California's Brixby Health Center. "But a woman’s right to be protected against an unintended pregnancy or STD or HIV has become a greater part of the social norm, so those numbers have been increasing over time."
Although the number of unplanned teen pregnancies has decreased, it hasn't ceased to be a problem in the country. The second most common method of birth control is still withdrawal, which has a higher failure rate than most other methods. Additionally, the United States' teen pregnancy rate, although decreasing, still remains higher than many countries which measure similar data.
According to Brindis, it is important to zero in on at-risk groups of young adults and continue to build a strong network of care and resources for teens.
FACTS ABOUT SEX EDUCATION
Only about a third of girls and half of boys in the United States receive information about birth control before they are sexually active.
Mississippi had the highest rates of teen pregnancy and gonorrhea in 2011.
States such as Alaska, Virginia, and Idaho don't require HIV education as part of mandated sex education.
Cover image: Wikimedia Commons