An April 5 press release (quoted below) from the National Abstinence Education Association tells us that there is encouraging news for those who believe that abstinence is a viable choice for teens.
A report released today from the CDC indicates that teen birth rates have decreased by 37 percent in the past two decades. This heartening statistic begs a closer look at the trends that have aided this decrease. Most noticeably, this encouraging statistic has been the result of a surprising trend among teens that, according to another recent CDC data report, they are choosing not to have sex. 2006-2008 survey results from the National Center for Health Statistics indicate that 68% of boys and 67% of girls (ages 15-17) have not have sexual intercourse and that overall sexual contact trends are also moving in the right direction. 53% of boys and 58% of girls report never having had oral, anal, or vaginal sex with anyone.
“While these statistics certainly do not mean that teen sexual activity is not an issue of concern, they do compel us to examine what is working and what is causing teens to reject the ‘everybody’s doing it” myth promulgated in the media,” stated Valerie Huber, Executive Director of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA). Huber continued, “While some argue that teens simply need access to more birth control and devices, perhaps a closer look would show us that they need more support for the good decisions they are making to abstain. Current public policy has failed to recognize and support the positive behavioral trends among teens by failing to provide resources for comprehensive risk avoidance sex education.”
The report further indicates that contraceptive use is lowest and teen birth rates are highest among Hispanic and Black teen populations. For decades sex education for these populations has been primarily a contraceptive-centered approach. “Perhaps it is time to start believing that all teens can be empowered with the skills to resist early sexual activity. Let’s capitalize on what is working and increase the positive direction of teen sexual health”, said Huber.