Illinois action blog

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Spotlight on Teen Pregnancy

The topic of teen pregnancy has recently been given center stage in homes across the country. Jamie Lynn Spears, 16 year-old sister of Britney, has announced that she is pregnant. Fans are shocked and disappointed, parents are angry and terrified of the example this celebrity sets for their children, and health care professionals are likely not surprised, given the evidence of recent statistics on teen pregnancy.

The National Center for Health Statistics just revealed that our national teenage birth rate rose in 2006 after 14 previous years of decline. It may be too early to know all the factors contributing to this startling change, but we can speculate that the Bush administration's abstinence-only programs are part of the problem. These programs are not only ineffective, they have done more harm than good with their misleading and inaccurate information.

To all the parents out there who are in a panic, it's not too late for our teens. Data was just released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that shows that formal sex education does help to delay teen sex, but emphasis was placed on the importance of educating young people before they become sexually active in order to be successful. In addition, many states (15 to date) are now taking a step in the right direction by rejecting federal funding for abstinence-only sex education in favor of a comprehensive approach that includes information about birth control and sexually transmitted infections.

Unfortunately for Miss Spears, with celebrity comes the inevitable scrutiny of her personal choices. On the bright side, her situation presents us with an important reminder. The picture-perfect teen on the Nickelodeon show, Zoey 101, is a television character. The reality is quite different. Teens are having sex, and an increased number of them are becoming pregnant.

It’s time for public officials to stop denying the issue of teen sexuality and teen pregnancy. We have a responsibility to give teens the facts they need to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancy and provide them the with information to make responsible choices. To do this, we need to abandon the abstinence-only boondoggle and teach real, comprehensive sex ed in public schools.

For parents dealing with the repercussions of school systems that don’t give young people the tools they need, here are a few tips on talking to your kids about sex. Click here.
Technorati tags: sex education, abstinence only, Jamie Lynn Spears, Planned Parenthood, teen pregnancy


Blogger jovan said...

Jamie Lynn Spears being pregnant is the direct result of the abstinence-only policy promoted by Bush and his ilk. You guys were right all along about the policy being a 100% failure.

December 21, 2007 at 9:32 PM  

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