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High teen pregnancy rate marks annual national day of prevention
Teens in the U.S. are more likely to become pregnant than teens in any other comparable nation. That was the message that local family planning organizations wanted Iowans to know Thursday, the eighth annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
“Teens deserve honest, accurate, age-appropriate information about how to protect themselves,” said Amy Halvorson, Director of Education with Planned Parenthood of East Central Iowa. “They need sex education that provides information about healthy communication, responsible decision making, as well as abstinence and contraception as ways to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.”
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has called for public funding of comprehensive, medically accurate sex education programs to reduce the alarming rate of unintended teen pregnancies in this country.
The U.S. teen birthrate increased for the second year in a row, according to data released in March by the National Center for Health Statistics. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports the U.S. has the highest rates of teen pregnancy among comparable countries. An estimated 750,000 American teens become pregnant each year.
Planned Parenthood staff and volunteers have provided information to various schools, churches and organizations throughout east central Iowa. Many individuals from the community have formed a coalition to address the issue of unintended pregnancies. One of their main areas of focus is the implementation of comprehensive, medically accurate sex education to prevent unintended pregnancies and STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
Providing teens and young people with the information they need to make responsible decisions is the commonsense solution to reducing unintended teen pregnancy, according to Halvorson. Numerous studies have analyzed abstinence-only programs and found them to be ineffective.
A study conducted by the University of Washington found that teens who had comprehensive sex education were 50 percent less likely to become pregnant than teens who had no sex education or who were in abstinence-only programs. A study by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that two-thirds of the examined sex education programs that focus on both abstinence and contraception had a positive effect on teen sexual behavior.
Planned Parenthood was a 2009 national partner of the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, an effort to help teens understand the importance of avoiding unintended pregnancy. For more information, visit The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.