I really have nothing earthshattering to say about this one. I'm just curious as to why for the first time in more than 10 years teen pregnancy rates in the United States went up, rather than sliding or holding steady. The abortion rate also rose slightly.
The Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based non-profit that researches and promotes sexual and reproductive health (according to its Web site), says teen pregancy reflected a 4% rise in '06, along with a 1% increase in abortions. The study also says that black and Latino teens are getting pregnant at essentially the same rate now, but that both are getting pregnant still much more often than non-Hispanic white teens.
Guttmacher suggests in its study that a corresponding sharp increase in abstinence-only education over the past decade or so might be to blame for the increase in pregnancies and abortions, since it teaches teens that their only safe option is to just not have sex and doesn't educate them on how to protect themselves if (they're dumb enough to not listen, and) they have sex anyway.
The old school side of me says it's a good thing to tell kids not to have sex till they're grown and in committed relationships, because if they have sex as teenagers they risk pregnancy and babies that they can't afford and probably aren't emotionally mature enough to care for either.
If you wonder why I left out "disease," it's 'cause that's a possibility with anyone having sex outside an exclusive sexual relationship - teenager or adult.
The pragmatic side of me says for every two or three kids who take the advice to abstain till they're older, there are probably a few more who are just oblivious, who just aren't going to listen, who just couldn't care less. For these kids, like or not - and regardless of your religious or philosophical beliefs, there probably has to be a safety net of safe sex education, if for no other reasons than to help stem the tide of disease and unwanted pregnancy.
Again, in my perfect world we'd just tell kids to not have sex 'cause they may die or have babies, and that would be enough. That would fit nicely with my religious philosophies, but that would not be practical...in my opinion. Most licensed drivers are relatively safe, according to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. And most drive at reasonable speeds and wear seatbelts, etc. But some drivers will always be jackasses behind the wheel. Thus driver's ed, speed limits, traffic lights, stop signs, etc. - all rules or requirements that all drivers are subject to.
The alternative is to have all teenagers watch a marathon of MTV's documentary series Teen Mom and 16 & Pregnant. If they don't listen to reason or subject themselves to traditional sex ed, then watching these shows should cure 'em of having sex as kids. If that doesn't work as a backup, I don't know what will.
Or we could go all Star Trek on the kids and give 'em brain implants at birth that will prevent pregnancy and dampen sexual desire, but dissolve when the kids turn 18. Hmmm, that might be illegal though.
If you have an educated guess or informed opinion that run contrary to what Guttmacher suggests, that don't involve aliens, black helicopters, brain implants, or immaculate conception, then do share.
PS. Follow me, please, at twitter.com/jamesburnett.