Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Teen Baby Bumps Make A Comeback


For the past decade teen pregnancy has been on either a plateau or a decline, depending on which set of information you subscribe to. Either way, this is considered a good thing. Less teen pregnancies lead to less unwanted or unexpected children from children that can lead to a whole load of good things for teens - like the ability to attend college or succeed in their career without the burden of children. Those bright, shiny times are past. And, I don't like to toot my own horn - okay, that's a lie - but I told you so.

It was reported today by nearly every media outlet that for the first time in 10 years teen pregnancy is on the rise. I'd have to go back and listen, but I believe Lacy and I talked about the steady increase and plateau of teen pregnancy that began back around 2004 or 2005, which many attribute to the strict implementation of abstinence programs in place of sex education. That's where Planned Parenthood, according to a prepared statement, is placing the blame:

It is a tragedy that after a decade of progress in reducing the rate of teenage pregnancy we are witnessing a substantial increase in the number of teens who are getting pregnant.

Though, abstinence has its strong points, it should not be the only form of birth control that is taught. My senior thesis for Criminal Justice/Social Sciences centered around early sexualization of children and teens. A large portion of my research dealt with the kinds of sex education that schools provide, granted it was in Texas (which gets the title of the state with the most teen pregnancies). In many schools that teach abstinence only sex education (oxymoronic if you ask me), the textbooks do not even mention the words 'condom' or 'contraceptive.' Instead, they recommend that before engaging in a mixed-gender social activity the juvenile should take a nap, among other genius ideas.

Studies also prove categorically that children want the information about sex, and that they know we're keeping it from them. Numbers also tell us that the majority of parents feel their children should learn sex education and contraception. These same statistics, though, lament that the majority of parents that want this education for their children do not give it themselves, nor do they want schools to give it. So, we're raising a generation of children that have no proper idea of how to put a condom on, whether they should be taking the pill, what are the options should they either get pregnant or get someone else pregnant, and what an STD is and how one could contract it.

And, POOF, a rise in teen pregnancy. Now, statistics are also saying the rise could be due to a disparity between the explosion of lower-class and minority teen pregnancies. This is also quite true, because in areas where low-income families live, schools tend not to have the funding to promote proper sex education. Indeed, many times sex education classes are traded off for other courses considered more vital. Or, as the Guttmacher report puts it, this increase may be due to several issues including "shifts in racial and ethnic composition of the population, increased in poverty, the growth of abstinence-only sex education programs at the expense of comprehensive programs, and changes in public perception and attitudes toward both teenage and unintended pregnancy."

Either way you slice it, teen pregnancy is back in a big way. I've heard from people of earth-centric faiths that they teach their children that sex is a wonderful thing, nothing to be ashamed of doing, but I rarely hear about respecting yourself enough to use protection. If we do not arm our children with the knowledge and skills they need before their hormones get the best of them - AND THEY WILL - then we are just as much to blame for what happens as they are. Moreso, in my opinion.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

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