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The Link Between Sexual Education and Teen Pregnancy

Introduction Video

Click HERE to take survey!https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScK8IsaIzZcG-7hcYAtED2HHuBFQ6EDaOxAhlanVF08IQRZnQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

Problem: The proven link between insufficient sexual education and the rate of teenage pregnancies in the United States.

Teenage Pregnancy in the United States

Despite the fact that the United States teen birth rate reached an all-time low in 2016, approximately 57.4 per 1,000 teens aged from 15-19 become pregnant each year (Parenthood). To be clear, there is absolutely nothing shameful about being teenage mother. However, it is concerning that 75 percent of teen pregnancies are unplanned, and that those unplanned pregnancy rates for teens have been strongly correlated with the sexual education system in America (Frost).

The United States currently has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the developed world, and the problem lies with the education system (Abstinence-Only Education)(The State of Sexual Education). Lack of comprehensive sexual education in schools, abstinence-only sexual education, and medically inaccurate sexual education courses are not sufficient in properly educating teens on safe sex, and have a strong correlation with unplanned teenage pregnancies.

Sexual Education: The Legal Requirements

Lack of proper sexual education in schools greatly contributes to the problem of teen pregnancy, but some schools are not required to teach sex ed at all. As of 2016, state laws dictate that only 24 states in America, including the District of Columbia, are required to provide sexual education in public high schools (Evidence Based Policies). Only 20 of these states require that the sexual education provided by schools must be deemed as “medically accurate”, meaning that the sexual education curriculum must “follow information that published authorities upon which medical professionals rely” (Evidence Based Policies).

The Evidence

A medical study regarding teenage pregnancy rates in the United States and the issues correlation with sexual education summarizes the evidence: “After accounting for other factors, the national data show that the incidence of teenage pregnancies and births remain positively correlated with the degree of abstinence education across states: The more strongly abstinence is emphasized in state laws and policies, the higher the average teenage pregnancy and birth rate. States that taught comprehensive sex and/or HIV education and covered abstinence along with contraception and condom use… tended to have the lowest teen pregnancy rates” (Abstinence-Only Education).

The Impacts of Teen Pregnancies

Unexpected teenage pregnancies lead to an increased risk of dropping out of high school, and they are more likely to fall below the poverty line (Teen Pregnancy Prevention). Additionally, the children are more likely to have health and social issues, are at an increased risk of facing the correctional system, and are more likely to become teenage parents themselves (Teen Pregnancy Prevention).

Image result for teen pregnancy planned parenthood facts
Mississippi State Department of Health

The Value of Comprehensive Sexual Education

Educating teens on the use of condoms and birth control, and how to protect themselves from STDs is proven to reduce the levels of teen pregnancies, and helps to ensure that teens understand what it means to practice having safe sex (Abstinence-Only Education). Raising awareness on this issue and providing resources to teens and parents on how to have conversations about sexual education, practice safe sex, and providing resources for pregnant teens is key. 

What You Can Do

Having open conversations and publicly promoting resources to those without comprehensive sexual education is important. Below are links to websites that have information on practicing safe sex, frequently asked questions about sex, and resources for teens who are pregnant.

In addition to this, promoting the discussion of this topic in schools, at home, and with friends in a safe way can greatly benefit the community. Hanging up these posters on community boards, at schools, and discussing the topic in safe spaces will raise awareness!

Resources to Share!


https://www.healthyteennetwork.org/teens/resources-pregnant-parenting-teens/

https://siecus.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/CSE-Federal-Factsheet-May-2018-FINAL.pdf

Image result for teen pregnancy resources planned parenthood
Planned Parenthood


Works Cited:

“Evidence-Based Policies to Prevent Teen Pregnancy .” National Conference of State Legislatures , Apr. 2016, www.ncsl.org/documents/health/lb_2416.pdf.

Frost, Jennifer J, et al. “Contraceptive Needs and Services, 2014 Update.” Guttmacher Institute, 20 Apr. 2018, www.guttmacher.org/report/contraceptive-needs-and-services-2014-update.

Hall, Kelli Stidham, et al. “The State of Sex Education in the United States.” The Journal of Adolescent Health : Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5426905/.

Parenthood, Planned. “State of Sex Education in USA | Health Education in Schools.” Planned Parenthood, www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/for-educators/whats-state-sex-education-us.

“Let’s Talk.” Planned Parenthood, www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/campaigns/lets-talk-month.

“Reducing Teenage Pregnancy.” Planned Parenthood, www.plannedparenthood.org/uploads/filer_public/94/d7/94d748c6-5be0-4765-9d38-b1b90d16a254/reducing_teen_pregnancy.pdf.

“Red Silhouette .” Center for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov/winnablebattles/report/teenPregnancy.html.

“Teen Pregnancy Statistic.” Mississippi State Department of Health, msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/44,0,363.html.

Stanger-Hall, Kathrin F, and David W Hall. “Abstinence-Only Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates: Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in the U.S.” PloS One, Public Library of Science, Oct. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3194801/.

“Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program: A Case Study in Evidence-Based Policymaking.” National Conference of State Legislatures , 2016, www.ncsl.org/research/health/teen-pregnancy-prevention-program-a-case-study-in-evidence-based-policymaking.aspx.

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COMMENTS: 16
  1. April 25, 2019 by Margaret.French

    Lauren, coming from a background at a Catholic school where sex education was never taught well and the end goal was not for the kids to have a solid idea of what sexual health should be I appreciate this project very much. It’s important that we are education these children on these healthy practices so that we can avoid teen pregnancies like you have discussed. Amazing project!

    • April 27, 2019 by Lauren.Elvrum

      Margaret, thank you so much for your comment! It really is hard to understand sexual education when an institution refuses to properly instruct students about the issue. I hope my project provided adequate resources and insightful information!

  2. April 26, 2019 by Addie Behrens

    Hi Lauren! This is such an important topic and everyone needs to be educated on being safe so teen pregnancies don’t happen. Your interactive piece is perfect for this project. Such an amazing project, great job!

    • April 27, 2019 by Lauren.Elvrum

      I’m glad you enjoyed the interactive piece! Thank you for taking the time to review my project, and I hope it succeeds in raising awareness in an effective manner.

  3. April 26, 2019 by Caroline Glahn

    I think that this project is SUPER important and I am so glad that you chose to do it. I think that your introduction video is very helpful in letting your viewers know about your project and I think that the statistics throughout the wordpress really aid in getting your point across. Great job!!

    • April 27, 2019 by Lauren.Elvrum

      The statistics are definitely shocking and really do make you ponder the issue of sexual education. Thank you for the feedback and for taking the time to read my project!

  4. April 28, 2019 by bryent.takayama

    Hey Lauren! What an awesome presentation. I wonder if you could tell me more about why you chose to investigate this topic, and where there are cases of particularly commendable sexual education programs? Is there a model system that we can try to replicate for our schools?

    • April 30, 2019 by Lauren.Elvrum

      Hi Bryent! That is a difficult question to answer, especially when there are so many cultural and religious beliefs to account for. However, comprehensive sexual education is a system that encompasses a wide variety of sexual health topics, including personal behavior, healthy relationships, communicating effectively, as well as safe sexual behavior. In addition to teaching safe sex, it also covers abstinence as well, and it encompasses more than just sexual behavior. There are curriculums that come close to the CSE model, and there is debates about which ones are better, but from my research this seems to be the most encompassing model. Thank you for your comment! If you’re interested, you should definitely check out this link for a full definition:
      http://futureofsexed.org/definition.html

  5. April 29, 2019 by Graham.Wolff

    Hey Lauren! Coming from a private school where Sex Ed is required, I didn’t realize how many people don’t receive proper teaching. I thought the statistics were shocking and I will be sure to do more research!

    • April 30, 2019 by Lauren.Elvrum

      Hi Graham! It definitely is shocking to see the statistics, especially in regard to how many schools in the United States legally require sexual education, and the ramifications that come with that. I’m glad you learned something from my project, and thank you for your response!

  6. April 29, 2019 by Kaili Nakanishi

    Hi Lauren! This is a very important topic that can be pretty understated. I know that many times religion-based curriculums emphasize the importance of abstinence over safe sex. What do you think about the way those schools’ sex education programs?

    • April 30, 2019 by Lauren.Elvrum

      Hi, Kaili! To be honest, this is a very complicated question, and this question is partially why sexual education in schools is so controversial. Personally, I believe that there is a difference between teaching kids how to be safe should they choose to have sex in their lifetime, and providing comprehensive sexual education should not be equated with promoting sexual acts. However, it is difficult, because it is important to respect all cultures and religions and the beliefs that come with those.

  7. April 30, 2019 by Courtney

    Hi Lauren,
    This project is super important. Sex-Ed in schools is often not taken seriously, so what are some ways that teenagers can become engaged or learn to take it seriously since it is such a heavy subject and one that all teenagers need to be aware of.

  8. May 02, 2019 by Yoska.Guta

    Hi Lauren,

    You did such a great job addressing this topic that typical is looked down upon or swept under the rug. It is so unfair for schools and adults to shun pregnant teens when they didn’t even provide them with proper information. Your infographics were really helpful and I was astounded by some of the statistics. As a Chrisitan, I have decided to save sex for marriage, but I also know that this is not true for many of my peers. And although I attend a non-religious private school, I imagine that teen pregnancies are prevalent in religious schools. Therefore, my question is this: How do you suggest religious schools can do a better job of teaching sex education or safe sex while still being able to advocate for abstinence?

  9. May 02, 2019 by Yoska.Guta

    Hi Lauren,

    You did such a great job addressing this topic that typical is looked down upon or swept under the rug. It is so unfair for schools and adults to shun pregnant teens when they didn’t even provide them with proper information. Your infographics were really helpful and I was astounded by some of the statistics. As a Christian, I have decided to save sex for marriage, but I also know that this is not true for many of my peers. And although I attend a non-religious private school, I imagine that teen pregnancies are prevalent in religious schools. Therefore, my question is this: How do you suggest religious schools can do a better job of teaching sex education or safe sex while still being able to advocate for abstinence?

    • May 03, 2019 by Lauren Elvrum

      Hi Yoska! That’s a great question! It definitely is complicated, because I do believe that religions and beliefs need to be respected. However, I think there’s a difference between promoting sex and teaching about having safe sex. That’s what is so great about comprehensive sexual education, it teaches about safe sex as well as abstinence, and a variety of other things such as healthy relationships, general health, and birth control methods. Sexual education does not solely cover having safe sex; the curriculum covers things that people should learn about in order to live healthier lives. Again, I think it really is just about differentiating between teaching students how to be safer and more aware, and recognizing that independent beings will make their choice on whether or not to have sex regardless of their having taken a sexual education course.

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