Teen Birthrates Drop Thanks To Smart Sex Ed

Birthrates among teenagers are at their lowest rates in almost 70 years across all racial and ethnic groups, a positive sign that a return to comprehensive sex education is working..

The news comes courtesy of a new federal report by the National Center for Health Statistics. According to the report the actual number of teen births in 2010 was the lowest since 1946.  The new numbers elaborate on federal data released in November that found the teen birthrate dropped 9% from 2009 to 2010, to a historic low of 34.3 births per 1,000 teens. That’s down 44% from 61.8 in 1991. The all-time high was 96.3 during the Baby Boom year of 1957. The new analysis, based on 2010 preliminary data, shows a range in birthrates among racial and ethnic groups, from 10.9 for Asians to 23.5 for whites, 51.5 for blacks and 55.7 for Hispanics.

Health advocates attribute the drop in teen pregnancies to increasing contraceptive use and teens being “smarter” about sex.

“The fact that states with high Hispanic populations still show declines speaks to the more general pattern of increasing contraceptive use and declining teen births,” says Laura Lindberg, a senior research associate with the non-profit Guttmacher Institute in New York.

Her analysis of federal data for a report in December found no change in the percentage of sexually active teen girls but significant increases in use of contraception, which suggests contraception is driving the numbers. Contraceptive use the first time a girl has sex “has gone up dramatically,” she says, noting that the elimination of pelvic exams before receiving prescriptions for hormonal methods, as well as use of long-acting methods such as IUDs, suggest teens are taking contraception seriously.

Her analysis also found that those who had ever used the “morning-after” emergency contraception (12%-15%) didn’t change from 2006-08 to 2008-10. Lindberg says Guttmacher’s latest data on abortions are from 2006, but the “general pattern over time has been declining abortion rates paralleling declining pregnancy and birth” rates.

This good news would be excellent news if states dominated by Republican lawmakers were not intent on driving back these gains in favor of proven failures in abstinence-only sex education.

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Photo from kevin dooley via flickr.

54 comments

Thomas P.
Thomas P.3 years ago

This is good news but I can't imagine that this comes as a surprise to many progressive thinkers....it's common sense! BTW, nobody is saying that virginity is bad....it's just not practical. And the reason abstinence only education doesn't work is not because it is not fun, it doesn't work because it is not practical. The sooner some get out of the stone ages and realize that this is the most practical way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STD's, the better off as a society we will be.

Ashley D.
Ashley D.4 years ago

Abstinence is the ability and strength of character to say no. Abstinence is also a valid choice. Contraceptions are never 100% effective. Even if a teenager does not become pregnant .. virginity is still good.
I'm still a virgin - at fifty-three! Celibacy has not done me any harm.

marc horton
marc horton4 years ago

right on tony c and dan b, je d'accord avec des mots, merci.

Tony C.
Tony C.4 years ago

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation, children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anyone else. If children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help others not to tease or bully them.
It should not matter if a child comes from a FAMILY of a mother and father, 2 mothers or 2 fathers or a single mother or father as long as they are LOVED.
Sex Education should be taught on LGBT, Contraceptives, Masturbation, Pregnancy and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier and earlier. Children should be taught the JOYS and the CONSEQUENCES of having sex ( Pregnancy, STD, AIDS and others.) Cut out Geography or History early on then put it back in. Geometry and Algebra can be learned in college if needed. I believe this is a solution. Stopping the damage before it starts so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principals where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. If children grow up with these principles, I believe business and government would benefit greatly. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

C.M Padget
Carolyn Padget4 years ago

Let's hope this does not change, despite all these politicains wanting to ban coverage of birth control...

Heather G.
Heather G.4 years ago

"the only smart sex is no sex" That's the kind of attitude that leads to unprotected sex. But it's not true!! Women (and men) can have frequent and satisfying sex lives without getting pregant or catching STDs! Education really is great! You should try it.

Rebecca S.
Rebecca S.4 years ago

glad to here. Abstinence only does not work, smart sex ed does!

Courtney G.
Courtney G.4 years ago

That's great maybe the t.v. shows about teen moms are also helping. We can't prevent teens from engaging in intercourse but we can educate and and supply them with the needs to prevent pregnancy.

KS Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Krysti Schwab
Past Member 4 years ago

education is great but the only smart sex is no sex this should be taught and encouraged as well