Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More Good News About Today's Teens...

The first time I was ever interviewed in the national press was for an article in Newsweek back in 1975. I was the Resource Center Coordinator for the Population Institute and was in charge of keeping up to date on teenage pregnancy. I was 21 and barely older than the girls I was researching. The teenage birth rate was, as I recall it, over 60 births per 1000 teenage girls.

Yesterday, the National Center for Health Statistics announced the latest teenage birth rate -- it's dropped to 40 per 1000, the lowest rate ever recorded, the lowest rate in the past 65 years.
This is a remarkable public health accomplishment. The reason -- teenagers are more likely to delay having sexual intercourse than they were a decade ago (which accounts for about 15% of the decline in births according to a recent study) and much more likely to use contraception and condoms than any other generation of young people. Sex education programs that promote abstinence and contraception and better availability of family planning services as well as better contraceptive methods have made a difference.

This is also a moral accomplishment. It means that while the adults are fighting over the content of sexuality education programs and even such no-brainers as protecting girls against cervical cancer, the teenagers are getting the message and behaving more responsibly. It also means that many adults -- parents, the media, the folks who run good sex education Internet sites for teens, and yes, many faith based institutions, are doing their job. Let's take a moment to celebrate today's teenagers and the adults who are serving them.

The U.S. continues though to have one of the highest teenage birth rates in the developed world. We can and must do better. Stay tuned on February 12th for the release of our new "Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Adolescent Sexuality."

1 comment:

figleaf said...

That really is great news! You're probably in a better position to know than I, but intuition and anecdotal experience tells me that people tend not to backslide from the level of attention they pay to contraception they first begin having sex. If that's true then this cohort will tend to have fewer unplanned, unwanted pregnancies than their elders for the rest of their lives. I certainly hope my intuition is right.

Take care,