Mississippi Tops List for Teen Pregnancies
The Center for Disease Control has released information stating Mississippi as the leading state in teen pregnancies, stealing the top spots from New Mexico and Texas. The report reveals data gathered from birth certificates for pregnancies in 2006.
Mississippi now has the nation's highest teen birth rate, displacing Texas and New Mexico for that lamentable title, a new federal report says. Mississippi's rate was more than 60 percent higher than the national average in 2006, according to new state statistics released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The teen birth rate for that year in Texas and New Mexico was more than 50 percent higher.
Across the board there were higher rates of teen pregnancies than in 2005, resulting in 21,000 more births to girls between the ages of 15 and 19.
Some experts have blamed the national increase on increased federal funding for abstinence-only health education that does not teach teens how to use condoms and other contraception. They said that would explain why teen birth rate increases have been detected across much of the country and not just in a few spots.
There is debate about that, however. Some conservative organizations have argued that contraceptive-focused sex education is still common, and that the new teen birth numbers reflect it is failing.
I would agree that the 1 billion dollar, federally funded abstinence-only sex education initiative is failing, but in my mind it is only failing teens.
The religiously bent, pro-abstinence-only argument believes that providing information on sex, including birth control methods, sexuality and reproductive health issues will encourage kids to engage in sexual intercourse or lead to them to homosexuality. By making the subject taboo in schools, they believe it will make the acts themselves taboo.
Liberals argue that limiting discussion, awareness and resources to teens will only aid in more unplanned pregnancies and higher risks of STD s, as well as a plethora of emotional traumas that often emerge as a result of oppressed issues of sex and sexual identity.
There hasn't yet been a lot of statistical analysis done on the overall impacts of this initiative, but I will not be surprised to see a continued trend towards increased teen pregnancies if schools continue to prohibit real information on sex. Teens have, and always will experiment with their sexuality. It is a natural part of their development into (hopefully) healthy adults. And though the statistical numbers may fluctuate, the fact that some teens are having sex will never change. For those teens, the best possible thing we have to offer them to ensure their mental and physical health is information.