Sex education has long been a controversial issue in the U.S., but new research shows that if the federal government funds more comprehensive sex education, it leads to an overall reduction in teenage pregnancies.
Researchers from New York University (NYU) published a study covering a 20-year period, from 1996 to 2016, comparing the age rates of adolescent births in counties across the country who received and did not receive federal funding for sex education. Their results showed that counties that received federal funding for more comprehensive sex education led to a 3 percent reduction in overall adolescent birth rates.
In the 1990s, the federal government strictly funded abstinence-only programs, and providers were ordered to avoid the topic of contraception, except to emphasize the level of their failures. The level of teenage pregnancy reached its peak in 1991, recording about 61.8 births per 1,000 women, with about 54 percent of high school students reporting ever having sex.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Signs of life: A teen pregnancy report for 1991-2009 said adolescent births are at greater risk of low birth weight, premature births and even infant deaths. Adolescent mothers are also less likely to graduate from high school, and their children are more likely to have low grades, drop out of high school and give birth themselves in adolescence.
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In response to the dramatic increase in teenage pregnancies in 2010, the federal government began deploying teenage pregnancy programs to expand nationwide and provide a more complete sex education through the Personal Responsibility Program (PREP) and the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP). ).
The TPP has given money to local public and private entities to “replicate evidence-based models of adolescent pregnancy prevention programs that have been shown to be effective through rigorous evaluative research,” and in particular it has eliminated any requirement that programs follow the old program abstinence only. mandate since the 1990s.
According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the city of Hartford, Cannes., through federal money TPP has created programs that provide information on pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), as well as opening youth access to reproductive health services. The new initiatives led to a 28 percent increase in the number of students who felt comfortable talking to their parents about sex, while the adolescent birth rate in Hartford fell below the national level.
Researchers noted similar changes at the national level by studying the terms TPP and PREP and subsequent fertility rates, analyzing birth certificates that recorded the mother’s age and district of residence. They found that in a total of 55 counties across the country that received TPP funding, the teenage pregnancy rate fell 1.5 percent in the first year of funding and then fell again by about 7 percent by the fifth year of funding.
During the 20-year study period, there was an average 3% reduction in the number of adolescent pregnancies.
However, researchers note that the overall decline in adolescent birth rates spans more than three decades, and there have been other economic and social factors that may also have contributed to the decline.
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