Teen Pregnancy in the United States

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“Even though teen pregnancy has drastically declined within the last decade, the United States still has the highest teen birth rate in the industrialized world (Blackman,K). Additionally, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that one in two sexually active persons will contract an STI by age 25, and estimates that nearly 20 million new STI cases occur every year, half of those among ages 15-24 (ASHA). These statistics are overwhelmingly negative, and can be prevented through structured comprehensive sex early-education courses describing a wide range of sexual behavior including the use of/information regarding: birth contraceptives, homosexuality, abortion, masturbation, STI/STD testing and how to talk to your partner/family/friend openly about healthy sexual actions.

When comprehensive sexual education programs began to take form, many individuals thought the programs were too gruesome for their children. So, in 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law the “welfare reform act,” which devoted $50 million in funding for programs that focused on abstinence, and since then there has been an influx in federal funding for abstinence-only education programs- shooting up to $167 million in 2005 (Barth,R). In response to this, Douglas B. Kirby, a senior research assistant, conducted an experiment about the effectiveness of abstinence-only education within schools. His research found that abstinence programs are not sufficiently effective to eliminate teens’ sexual risk, and that comprehensive sex education programs can both delay initiation of sex and increase contraceptive use among youth (Kirby,D). In his research, there were 9 programs which conducted abstinence education, and 0 of those programs showed a decrease in sexual risk taking, whereas 15 out of the 24 programs for comprehensive sex education showed positive results, meaning the people involved in this study were more likely to use birth contraceptives and prevention tactics.

It is clear that in terms of STI/STD prevention, comprehensive sex education programs in early youth can cause no harm, and will lead to wiser actions of individuals in the future. Educating our youth about healthy ways to have sex also has the possibility to lower our gross domestic product spent on medical care. It is stated by the National Conference of State Legislatures that sexually transmitted infections costs the US $6.5 billion annually, and this is excluding the costs of HIV/AIDS. This amount spent annually can be lowered through changes in policies school/statewide. Additionally, by educating the youth about the consequences stemming from unprotected sex, teenage pregnancy will become less common. Before students reach high school education, they should know that teenage mothers are more likely to live in poverty, depend on public assistance and be in poor health. This can result in their children suffering diseases, coming into contact with child welfare services and possibly even correctional systems, overall becoming high school dropouts themselves. These consequences of STIs/STDs and teenage pregnancy are still prevalent in abstinence-based sexual education, because there is no education about the preventions and precautions to take before sexual behaviors.

For the past few decades, school districts have been under intense pressure to eliminate discussion of birth control methods and disease prevention strategies (Donovan, P). Parental individuals within communities force their public schools into urging abstinence as a mean of preventing pregnancy and STD/STIs. Now that we know this strategy does not work, and we know the importance in comprehensive sexual education, what can we do about it in terms of policy? Well, currently laws and policies in 23 states specify that all sexuality education must include instruction about abstinence, only 13 states require courses to cover contraceptive methods, and only 22 states require courses on HIV and STD prevention. Even though these guidelines are in place in some places, a majority of states/communities have developed guidelines to prevent discussion about abortion, homosexuality and maturbation becuase they are considered “too controversial” (Donovan, P). It is vital that every individual recognizes the importance in comprehensive sex education for our youth, and is well-versed of the laws in their own individual state.

If the school/state system fails you, as a parent you should be aware of the consequences that come along with avoiding discussions about healthy sexual behavior with your child. Speaking on behalf of my parents, they have informed me about how overwhelmed they were when beginning to conduct a conversation with me about menstrual cycles and sexual behaviors. It can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. There are an abundant amount of resources out there for parents and teenagers which discuss healthy sexual behaviors and precautions to take. STDs, STIs and teen pregnancy are unfortunately too common, by talking about how to prevent these issues together, we can reduce their commonality. By becoming a community activist, and promoting change and deliberation for comprehensive sexual education programs, you can increase the awareness and positive attitudes towards certain programs to generate an overall healthier community.”

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Teen Pregnancy in the United States. (2021, Jun 17). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/teen-pregnancy-in-the-united-states/

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