According to a study by the New York City Health Department released on Sunday, teen pregnancy has dropped by 27% over the last decade as a result of increased availability and usage of contraception and an overall delay in sexual activity on the part of teens.
The city has worked to make it easier for kids to get birth control — giving out condoms at schools and making birth control and the morning-after pill available in some school clinics, a sometimes controversial move.
Farley said the numbers show that strategy is working.
“It shows that when you make condoms and contraception available to teens, they don’t increase their likelihood of being sexually active. But they get the message that sex is risky,” he said.
This conclusion flies in the face of one of the standard fundamentalist / social conservative talking points that maintain – despite plenty of data to the contrary – that the availability of contraception combined with a comprehensive sex education program will somehow “encourage” kids to engage in sexual activity.
ThinkProgress also did a piece on this (it’s where I got some of the source links) but their article strongly implies that the 10-year reduction in teen pregnancy is due to the introduction of Plan B … which was only done recently in early 2011. Even though I think Plan B is a good idea, it’s a little too early to tell if that will help drop the teen pregnancy rate by an even larger margin in the long term (and I think it’s somewhat dishonest for TP to suggest otherwise.) Helping matters is the fact that the program is encountering little resistance from parents, whom I believe are well aware of the dangers their children face, since many in the inner city likely faced it themselves.
Adding to this issue is the problem of strong racial disparity in pregnancy rates …
But there are large differences by race and neighborhood. Black girls have the highest pregnancy rate — 110.7 for every 1000 girls — compared with just 16 for white girls.
Thankfully, added awareness among the low-income (and mostly minority) population is expected to start bringing those statistics a little closer together.
In general, I’m not as concerned about initiatives like this taking hold in places like the Bronx, South Chicago, or any other inner city-type environment with a significant minority population. In general, I wouldn’t expect there to be significant resistance to an effort to bring resources in to address what is widely considered to be as a very real, pervasive problem spanning generations. A more difficult sell, as I see it, is basically anywhere in the South, from Virginia down to Georgia and heading west to Texas. There you’ll have enough chest-beating from the religious right who – again, despite plenty of science to the contrary – will try to portray this as some sort of “permission” to engage in careless and indiscriminate sexual behavior.
The bible belt states may win the battle to keep contraception plans and sex education out of their schools, and consider such an outcome an ideological victory; however, I doubt very much that the teens adversely affected by such government-mandated restrictions would end up sharing their sense of accomplishment.