Crystal Tyler, an epidemiologist for the CDC, and a co-author of the report says that teen girls seem to be using hormonal birth control now because doctors appear to be more comfortable prescribing them to teens. She also says that some of them-like the vaginal ring-became available more recently.
This change in contraceptive use has led to an impressive 44% drop in the number of pregnancies in among American teens in the past decade. However, these numbers are still severely behind when it comes to more forward thinking countries like Europe and Canada.
In America parents and teachers are still preaching abstinence and turning a blind eye, believing it actually works. Religious groups fight to keep comprehensive sex education out of classrooms, and the results are stunning.
In Europe they began teaching more explanatory sex education years ago, and their teens are reaping the benefits. According to the Guttmacher Institute, teen pregnancy in America is at a 30 year low. And that means, 68.7 teen pregnancies out of 1,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19.
Europe has half that number, with 35.5 teen pregnancies out of 1,000 girls between those same ages. Canada is doing even better, coming in at an impressive 24.6 teen pregnancies out of 1,000 but they included 14 year olds as well, further making the numbers stand out.
Sexual educator Lyba Springs from Toronto says “We like to think it has a lot to do with our work.” She also says that more and more sexually active teens are using condoms, which isn’t the best contraceptive, but it’s a lot better than previous years.
“And that can only be attributed to an increase in education and access” She says.
Even with Canada’s numbers where they stand, Springs believes there is a lot more work to be done.
“There has to be (better) access to sexual health centers, access to birth control that’s affordable, effective and safe. And there has to be access to abortion services as a back-up”.
In much of Canada the “morning after” or “Plan B” pill is available in most places over-the-counter, while here in America a doctor or nurse practitioner must prescribe it.
America has taken steps toward teens making better choices, but there’s a long way to go. Students and teens have begun taking a stand, such as Boston, where teens launched a campaign to make their voices heard, and push the schools into comprehensive sex education. Europe and Canada have proven that it not only lowers birth rates, but rates of sexually transmitted diseases as well.
Sources: Brie Cadman, Public Health
Simon Rogers, Guardian.co.uk
Caroline Morris, Shine On
Mike Stobb, Associated Press