Teen Birth Rates at Historic Low, Even as Sex Ed Declines
In a somewhat anomalous bit of health news, while teen pregnancy rates in the United States are at historic lows (rates have been dropping for two decades), and as federal spending on teen pregnancy prevention programs has increased, the proportion of American teenage girls being taught about birth-control methods has declined.
A study in the Journal of Adolescent Health analyzed responses to the ongoing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey for Family Growth, and found that over two time periods, from 2006-2010 and 2011-2013, the proportion of teen girls receiving both formal and informal education about birth control declined from 70 to 60 percent. Boys fared no better: in the same time period, the percentage of teenage boys between 15 and 19 who were taught about birth control dropped from 61 to 55 percent.
"Historically there's been a disparity between men and women in the receipt of sex education," said Isaac Maddow-Zimet, a research associate at a reproductive health research and advocacy group, the Guttmacher Institute, and a coauthor of the JAH study. "It's now narrowing, but in the worst way."