Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
Just when Bill O’Reilly was complaining that Beyoncé’s provocative new album, with its songs like “Drunk in Love,” was influencing teens—especially black teens—to have sex and get knocked up, news hits that teen pregnancy is actually at an all-time low and has fallen by 56 percent for African-American teenagers in the past two decades.
According to a study released this week by Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit reproductive health group, from 1990 to 2010 the U.S. pregnancy rate for 15-to-19 year olds fell by 51 percent, with approximately 614,000 occurring in 2010. A drop in pregnancies was seen across racial and ethic groups, though as Time reports, Hispanic and black teens got pregnant at nearly three times the rate of their white peers. In 1990 the white-teen pregnancy rate was 86.6 per 1,000 vs. 223.8 per 1,000 for black teens. In 2010 the rates had fallen to 37.8 per 1,000 for whites and 99.5 per 1,000 for blacks. Among Hispanic teens, the pregnancy rate fell from a high of 169.7 per 1,000 in 1992 to 83.5 per 1,000 in 2010.
And in other good news: Teen abortions were also on the decline, down 66 percent from 1998 to 2010, when there were reported 14.7 abortions per 1,000 women. Meanwhile, teen birthrates fell by 44 percent from 1991 to 2010, with about 34.4 births per 1,000 women.
The reason for the decline? Knowledge of birth control, and access to it—so fewer teens are getting pregnant in the first place, says lead author Kathryn Kost, which is interesting since as the LA Times points out, just last month the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that 83 percent of sexually active women between 15 and 17 didn’t learn about abstinence or birth control in sex education until after they had lost their virginity.
As reported by MSNBC, despite the ongoing declines, Guttmacher researchers found that New Mexico has the nation’s highest teen pregnancy rate with 80 per 1,000 women, followed by Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. New Hampshire had the lowest teen pregnancy rate with 28 pregnancies per 1,000, followed by Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Maine.
TELL US: Are you surprised by the findings?
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Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
While parenting groups have called for shows like MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom to be yanked off the air for glamorizing teen pregnancy, a new study suggests 16 and Pregnant and its spinoffs have actually helped lower the teen birth rate. Yep, in fact a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research that examined Nielsen television ratings and birth records states that the shows have prevented more than 20,000 births to teenage mothers in 2010 alone.
Even though some of the so-called stars of the show have gone on to become C-list celebrities, it seems teens are getting the message loud and clear that pregnancy and raising a baby is hard work—even harder when you’re in an unstable relationship, dealing with a major financial crunch and sleepless nights while trying to get through high school, and wishing you were out partying with your friends rather than changing poopy diapers.
The findings suggest that seeing these teen moms—many of which are total messes—has forced teens to take a look at what having sex, especially unprotected sex, can lead to. Luckily, they agree the picture isn’t pretty! The show—which can draw up to 3 million viewers per episode, many of which are young females—is credited with an almost 6 percent drop in the overall teen pregnancy decline.
Lead researchers, Melissa S. Kearney, the director of the Hamilton Project, a research group in Washington, and Phillip B. Levine of Wellesley College, looked at Nielsen ratings as well as search data for Google Trends and Twitter to determine the show’s potential impact on teen birth rates. They recorded spikes in Google searches and Twitter mentions about the show when new episodes aired and looked for searches on terms like “birth control” and “abortion,” which also spiked. They then looked to see if higher viewership in certain geographic areas corresponded with a bigger drop in teen births. It did.
Over all, they found that the rate of teenage pregnancy declined in areas where teens were watching more MTV programming than in areas where they did not. According to the New York Times, they weren’t able to know whether individual viewers of the programs “changed their behaviors to avoid unprotected sex, but the researchers were able to correlate viewership over all with reduced birthrates.”
In 1991, 62 teenage girls out of every 1,000 gave birth. By 2007, that dropped to 42 out of 1,000. In 2012, the birthrate dropped even lower to 29 out of 1,000. The study found that watching 16 and Pregnant can account for about one-third of the decline during an 18-month period in 2010. Can you believe it?
TELL US: Do you think TV shows about teen pregnancy encourages teens to get pregnant or discourages them from getting pregnant?
Image of woman taking birth control courtesy of Shutterstock.
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