Sunday, June 6, 2010
Teens Less Worried About Early Pregnancy
The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released June 2, surveyed 2,800 teenage boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 19 on sex, their use of contraceptives and thoughts on pregnancy. Researchers found that while the number of teens having sex is still significantly lower than in decades past, their attitudes toward getting pregnant (or getting their partner pregnant) are more lax.
The rate of sexually active teens did not change much from 2002, which was the last time that this survey was conducted. The survey showed that 79 percent of girls and 81percent of boys reported using some form of birth control method during their first sexual experience. The most commonly used contraceptive method was a condom, which was also the same in 2002.
Seventeen percent of teen girls are relying on the “rhythm method” for birth control, up from 11 percent in 2002. The method, which involves timing sex to avoid fertile days, doesn’t work about a quarter, or 25 percent of the time. Using condoms along with a hormonal contraceptive method such as birth control pills, however, has increased since 2002, the new survey shows.
"I am encouraged to see the statistics surrounding contraceptive use. It means we are getting better at informing teens about some of the realities associated with sexual intercourse," says Kimberly Spector, an adolescent-health educator in Los Angeles.
The fact that teens would be happy about getting pregnant or getting a partner pregnant, "serves as a reminder that we have a long way to go when it comes to sex education," she said. "The teenagers surveyed here obviously have some misconceptions about pregnancy and parenting if they aren't worried about it happening."
"We've known the decline in childbearing stalled out. This report kind of fills in the why," said Bill Albert, a spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
According to Spector, "This report shows us that if we as educators and parents are going to take a holistic approach to sex education, one that addresses all of the risks and most completely informs our students and children, we are going to have to start talking in more depth about the realities of parenting," she says. "Teenagers need to know that having babies is not just about cuteness, love, and a lasting relationship with a significant other, but also about dirty diapers, sleepless nights, increasing expenses, and often, emotional exhaustion."
Here are the major findings:
— One in five teenage girls who had sex said they would be pleased if they got pregnant; one in four teenage boys who had sex said they would be pleased if their partner got pregnant.
— Sixty-four percent of boys said it is OK for an unmarried woman to have a child (up from 50 percent in 2002); 71 percent of girls agree (up from 65 percent in 2002.)
— In the 2002 CDC survey, one in four teenage boys who had never had sex cited “don’t want to get female pregnant” as the top reason; that figure dropped to 12 percent in this survey.
— Teen girls who do not use contraceptives the first time they have sex are almost twice as likely to get pregnant before age 20; and only 79 percent of teenage girls used a contraceptive method the first time they had sex.
— Seventeen percent of teen girls are relying on the “rhythm method” for birth control, up from 11 percent in 2002. The method, which involves timing sex to avoid fertile days, doesn’t work about a quarter, or 25 percent of the time.
— Ninety-eight percent of teens have used birth control at least once; condoms are the most popular choice.
— Forty-two percent of never-married females have had sex (down from 51 percent in 1988); 43 percent of never-married males report having sex (down from 55 percent in 1995.)
— Twenty-six percent of females and 29 percent of males have had two of more partners.
Read the full survey here.
This is clearly a good news-bad news report. Less teens are having sex for the first time, but those who do are less concerned with becoming pregnant, and a significant number are using a highly unreliable birth control method that provides absolutely NO protection from STD’s.
It seems possible that the widespread popularity of young pop stars who have born children early may cause some teens to mistakenly believe they would be able to handle motherhood, and all that comes with it.
Parents and social educators have a difficult road ahead to ensure teens understand the risk of early pregnancies, along with the real threat of STD’s. The number of teens who contract STD’s continues to rise at an alarming rate.
— The Curator