Thanks to Comprehensive Sex Ed, California Cuts Teen Birth Rate

California’s teen birth rate has fallen by 60 percent since 1991, and it is now the lowest it’s been in the state in the last 20 years. It must be because California is a state known for its abstinence-only education. Oh wait! That’s not true.

California actually has a law that requires all public schools in the state to offer comprehensive sex education and accurate information about birth control. And it looks like state health experts do think that the impressive decrease is due to the state’s comprehensive sex ed program.

Interesting — it’s like not hiding your head in the sand is actually helpful.

According to the new report, teen birth rates in California have declined across the board. For Latinas between 15-19, the birth rate fell from 74 births for every 1,000 girls to 42. It just goes down from there. The rate among black teen girls dropped from 51.8 births per 1,000 teenagers to 34.1. Among white teens that number went from 20.1 to 11.2, and for Asian teens it went from 13.9 to 5.3.

Wow, that’s incredible. Who knew a little knowledge could go so far?

This California study fits in pretty well with what we see happening elsewhere in the country. Teen birth rates are decreasing nationwide, but not uniformly. The southern United States is not doing as well in this area, which, incidentally, is the place where you are most likely to see abstinence-only education and low access to birth control.

This really feels like the difference between fear-based and knowledge-based sex ed. Not only does abstinence-only education not stop teens from having sex, it fosters a really unhealthy relationship with a major and natural part of life. It leaves these boys and girls ill-equipped to deal with sex when they decide to have it. I cannot imagine that ignoring the existence of sex for enjoyment – which, despite the saturation of sexiness in culture, is a prevalent way of handling the topic – leads to a more fulfilling sex life as an adult.

If we want to keep kids safe and give them the knowledge necessary to navigate sexual relationships, we can’t ignore the reality. The data is in and it’s compelling. Abstinence-only education doesn’t work. Comprehensive sex education is the best way to arm teens against unwanted pregnancies. Not only that, but access to birth control greatly decreases the number of abortions. So if we really want to decrease the number of teen pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies, it looks like comprehensive sex ed and access to birth control is the way to go.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Bobbie Hensley
Bobbie Hensley3 years ago

Very good article...Thank you! Being that I do live in the South, I can speak firsthand for this phenomenon because it is true. Abstinence only education only leaves teenagers confused with nowhere to turn. This is causing a silent ignorance of real life to our youth causing more teen pregnancies.

John De Avalon
John De Avalon3 years ago

Good article. Education is the answer. Parenthood is the toughest job in the world, one should be ready for it. Not just physically, but emotionally and ideally within a framework of a loving, stable relationship.
Too many times we have mothers who are still basically children themselves and who have come to motherhood before they were ready, before they had had time to 'find themselves' and fulfill their potential.

Dagmar Breg
Past Member 3 years ago

Great news.

Koty Lapid
Koty Lapid3 years ago

thank you for publishing this.

Jennifer L.
Jennifer L3 years ago

Always good to see numbers backing up what should be common sense!

Rita M.
Ana M3 years ago

Wonderful news!

Autumn S.
Autumn S3 years ago

good for California !

Olivia S.
Past Member 3 years ago

Yes! No surprise about the South...where education is not a top priority.

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle3 years ago

This is really good news. Good for the people of California and the state.

Unfortunately, facts, logic, reason, sanity, .. just do not figure in the workings of the minds that think abstinance only policies are what's best for kids. If you can look at the mountains of scientific data and still believe that the earth is 6,000 years old, you are just plain too stupid for reality. Call it faith if you want. But if you sacrifice reality for fantasy in how you interact with the world you are not thinking even remotely well and you're playing your part on bringing society down. The high rates for teen pregnancy and STDs in the supposed moral states of abstinance only education is a slap in the face call to reality. But it doesn't sink in.

Robert H.
Robert Hamm3 years ago