Thursday, December 6, 2007

Teen birth rates may be rising - Let the "why?" debate rage on

In the Washington Post today, an article by Rob Stein called "Teen Birth Rate Rises in U.S., Reversing 14 Year Decline" ponders just why teen birth rates might be rising. The opinions couldn't be more different.

Is it that abstinence only messages have left our teens without the tools to protect themselves, or is it that condom promotion messages are encouraging increased sexual behavior?

Allegra Madsen, ISIS' new program manager, asked John Santelli, teen health expert at Columbia University, about his thoughts on the new data:

"Multiple social and policy factors are presumably influencing the recent rise in teen birth rates," offered Santelli. "One possibility is a decline in contraceptive use. The 2005 YRBS [Youth risk Behavior Surveillance] data suggests such a decline (a small decrease in condom use and a small increase in non use compared to 2003). One factor that may have contributed to a decline in contraceptive use would be the negative information on condom and contraceptive use that many abstinence only programs include."

Another thing is also clear. This debate is being played out among adults, health professionals, politicians, etc. But what do that teens want? What do they think they need?

The Fresh Focus Sex Ed Video Contest gives young adults (under 30) a chance to say what they want. We're asking film makers to imagine the future of sex ed, and what they think would work better. We're offering a $3500 first place prize, along with a chance to screen their videos at the Sex::Tech Conference in SF on January 22nd.

As I posted yesterday, Jennifer Garner isn't the only one who didn't get any formal sex education, check out the Fresh Focus submissions so far and judge for yourself.


DebL said...

This is so incredible! 10 years after abstinence-only and the teen pregnancy rates are up. Duh. Between the politics and the cuts in school funding, most schools aren't even choosing to teach sex ed anymore. It's ridiculous. Will this wake anyone up?
Maybe, just maybe, if one young person can tell the story passionately, and we can get that story out there, we can make social change.

theCurse said...

One way to settle this debate is to examine where abstinence-only is taught more than contraception and vice versa.

Of course, the idea that condom ads are encouraging sex is ridiculous to me. Wouldn't condom ads encourage the use of condoms?

Teenagers do not need to be encouraged to have sex, anyway.