Decrease Teen Pregnancy Incidence: The rate of teenage pregnancy in the United States remains the highest in the developed world, although it has been declining. Approximately 97 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 — one million American teenagers — become pregnant each year. The majority of these pregnancies — 78 percent — are unintended. And it is clear, that some means should be taken to reduce teen pregnancy. And what are they?
Medically Accurate Sexuality Education Can Help Prevent Teenage Pregnancy
93 % believe it should be taught in high schools, and 84 % believe it should be taught in middle or junior high schools. The most successful programs aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy are those targeting younger adolescents who are not yet sexually experienced. Nearly half of high school students report that they need basic information on birth control, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 40% of students would like more information on where to get contraception; 30 % would like more information on how to use condoms.
The Media Plays an Important Role in Teenage Pregnancy Prevention
Television portrayals contribute to sexual socialization – watching programs high in sexual content has been correlated with the early initiation of adolescent sexual intercourse.
Easy Access to Contraception Helps Reduce the Incidence and Cost of Teen Pregnancy
In 1995, contraceptive use among women aged 15–19 years old prevented an estimated 1.65 million pregnancies in the United States. More boys who participated in a high school condom availability program in Los Angeles reported using condoms every time they engaged in vaginal intercourse during the past year (50 %) than the year before (37 %), and more boys use condoms during their first sexual experiment (80 %) than the year before (65 %).
Poor and High-Risk Teens Need Programs Aimed at Preventing Pregnancy
Although youth development programs for poor teens, have been found to significantly reduce teenage pregnancy rates, few of them directly address the problem of poverty. Pregnancy among lesbian and bisexual adolescents is 12 % higher than among heterosexual teens. Teenagers who have been raped or abused also experience higher rates of pregnancy – out of 500 teen mothers 60% were raped. Adolescent women with older partners also use contraception less frequently, and the rate of pregnancy is 3.7 times as high as the rate among one aged couples. All these groups of young women need specialized programs to address their specific risk behaviors and to help them obtain services.
Pregnancy Prevention Programs Must Address the Role of Young Men
Sexuality educators and reproductive health care providers must therefore present pregnancy prevention as the job of both partners to foster responsible sexual choices among young men and women.
Preventing Teenage Pregnancy Calls for Changes in Attitudes about Sexuality
Recognition that sexual expression is a crucial component of teenagers’ development will help guarantee teenagers the right to honest, accurate information about sex and access to high quality reproductive health services that will empower them to express their sexuality in safe and healthy ways. Lower teenage pregnancy rates will follow as a natural outcome.