Teen Choices

Once we get to 30+years old we look at teenagers as being both wilder and more likely to get into trouble than we were at that age. One of the problems is that by this time we have kids and are struggling with all the pitfalls that ‘society’ seems to be putting in their way.

 A genuinely disturbing trend shows up when we look at the rate of pregnancies for girls between 15 1nd 19 years old. The US has the highest rate which is about twice as high as the UK’s, the second highest. The rate is 7-times that of the Netherlands, a country that has a pretty liberal reputation.

This trend caught the eyes of Stranger–Hall and Hall of U of Georgia and so they dug into the meta-data available for the US (1). Most of the States have laws advocating the teaching of abstinence along with sex education in the schools. Some states have more general sex education than others. As a result, some states have comprehensive sex education with information about sexually transmitted diseases included. Some do not and push hard that abstinence is basically what students should know about.

The result shown by this study is that the pregnancy rate increases in proportion to the emphasis on abstinence only with less comprehensive information. It appears that the serpent is alive and well and is tempting the teens to nibble at the fruit of the tree and abstinence is a challenge.

The clear recommendation from this study is that comprehensive sex education with information on STDs is beneficial and that teen pregnancy rates fall  for groups with more information, as do the rates of infection of STDs. Clearly just nibbling at the fruit of the tree isn’t as good as serving up a whole hot apple pie and cream (bearing in mind that we are pretending that it’s an apple tree in the Eden of Innocence when it’s more likely to have been a fig tree).

  1. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0024658

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