The big news yesterday was that the U.S. teen pregnancy rate rose in 2006 for the first time in more than a decade, reversing a long slide.
According to Reuters: “The overall teen pregnancy rate was up 3 percent in 2006, with a 4 percent rise in the rate of births and a 1 percent rise in the rate of abortions, according to the report by the Guttmacher Institute.”
But the questions for today are: Why is the rate up? And what can parents do to stop their daughter from becoming a statistic?
There are many interesting theories floating around as to why the increase in teen pregnancy. Here is a sampling:
Larry Finer, Guttmacher’s director for domestic research, said in a telephone interview with Reuters: “We’re not quite sure yet whether this is just a blip or whether it’s the beginning of a longer upward trend. It’s interesting to note that this flattening out of the rate and the increase in the rate is happening at the same time that we’ve seen substantial increases in funding for abstinence-only programs.”
“We do know that when we saw the big decline in the ’90s, that a lot of that decline was due to improved contraceptive use among teens.”
From the U.S News and World Report:
” ‘This new study makes it crystal clear that abstinence-only sex education for teenagers does not work,’ Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said in an E-mailed statement. ‘It should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who still believes that teenagers aren’t sexually active or that abstinence-only programs curb the rate of teen pregnancy.’ She’s happy that President Obama eliminated abstinence-only education funding and has instead set aside $100 million for comprehensive sex education programs to prevent teen pregnancies.”
However from the same story another quote:
“Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association told the Washington Post that she blamed the increase on ‘an oversexualized culture, lack of involved and positive role models, and the dominant message that teen sex is expected and without consequences.’ ” …
“But Heather Boonstra, Guttmacher’s senior public policy associate, tells me the reasons for the increase are probably complex and multifold. ‘We’ve been seeing declines in contraceptive use,’ she says, probably at least in part because of complacency about the HIV virus that fueled a rise in condom use among teens in the 1990s. She also says teen pregnancy seems to be more acceptable in many American towns and cities as teens flock to blockbuster movies like Juno (which positively portrays a pregnant teen) and see pregnant peers in their classes, something that was rare several decades ago.Decline in contraceptive use – people less afraid of AIDS – Also believe the pregnancies could be the result of domestic violence in dating relationships.”
Another possible reason: domestic abuse that results in pregnancy. One-third of teens say they’ve been in an abusive relationship at some point.
The second part to this equation is what do parents do now that the number is rising? How can you prevent you daughter from becoming pregnant?
My 8-year-old has recently become very interested in pregnancy outside of marriage, and I think we will be having the sex talk pretty soon. She’s not understanding why some women are married when they have kids (we were married for seven years, I think, before we had her) and others are not. (She caught a few scenes of MTV’s “Teen Mom” one night after I feel asleep and was very interested in that show. She also saw on TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” a woman trying on her wedding dress announcing she was pregnant. She’s very curious about how you control this.)
I actually think the “Teen Mom” series is a very good deterrent for teens. It shows just how much having that cute baby changes your world. You can’t go out. You’re You can’t finish your education. You’re stuck in many cases with the loser guy that knocked you up. I think it does a good job showing the harsh reality of life after that one night of passion.
I also found this other article in U.S. News and World Report talking about eight personality and behavioral traits that were associated with both abstinence and academic achievement.
“But maybe it’s more. The researchers identified eight personality and behavioral traits that were associated with both abstinence and academic achievement—traits that to some extent may be inborn but can also be taught and reinforced regularly at home and at school:
- Future orientation, with a focus on long-term goals
- Willingness to postpone current pleasures for larger future rewards
- Perseverance, as in the ability to stick to a task or commitment
- A belief that current behavior can positively affect the future
- Impulse control, including ability to control emotions and desires
- Resistance to peer influence
- Respect for parental and social values
- Sense of self-worth and personal dignity”
So what do you think: Why do you think the pregnancy rate has ticked up? What methods or teachings will help keep your daughter out of this situation?