Pregnancy increase unsurprising

Is anyone really surprised that the teen pregnancy rate has risen for the first time in 15 years? Sadly, the 3 percent increase is a telling result of the failure of abstinence-only education.

Teenagers need to be educated about the realities of sex and contraception, but instead they have been throwing chastity parties and given candy-coated content about how true love waits. The kids that do end up having sex are usually not using contraception, because a lot of them haven’t had any education about birth control. Talk about backlash. A new study showed that teens who took “virginity pledges” were just as likely to have sex as teens who hadn’t, but they were less likely to use condoms or other forms of birth control, according to The Washington Post.

The study showed that 82 percent of teens who had taken the pledge ended up having sex. Are we really so na’ve as to think they wouldn’t? Most kids take these pledges under pressure from teachers, parents or church organizations. Interestingly enough, the highest rate of teen pregnancy occurs in more “religious” states such as Mississippi, according to MSNBC.

Thankfully, the Obama administration will be tossing out abstinence-only education in favor of a less conservative approach, according to The Huffington Post. Our children need to be educated. We know they will get the information somewhere else if they don’t get it from us, and it could be faulty or wrong.

But I also don’t think parents should leave it in the hands of educators. Parents should engage their kids in honest discussion about sex and birth control. It may seem awkward and embarrassing, but it will arm them with what they need to know. Children talk and make up stuff, and they will get the wrong information if a parent doesn’t sit down and tell them the truth. Why are people so afraid to tell children about sex? Talking to them about it doesn’t mean that they are going to run out and do it. It just means they can make an educated decision.

Kids will also be more likely to confide in a parent they feel they can talk about sex truthfully with, which could prevent them from getting into a bad situation.

Alongside the pregnancy rate rising, the abortion rate has also gone up, according to USA Today. This is sad and shouldn’t be happening. Shows like “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant” on MTV show a more realistic view of teen motherhood and pregnancy. Teenagers should watch these shows with their parents and open a dialogue about the subject matter and talk about real life teen moms such as Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears.

Because so many teenagers are moms these days, girls could get the wrong idea and glamorize teen pregnancy. News stories about the “pregnancy pacts” in Massachusetts and movies like “Juno” could make teens think pregnancy is something that’s socially acceptable or cool.

According to Time magazine, teenagers may become pregnant because they want someone to love them “unconditionally”, which leaves me wondering why these girls feel unloved and how that could be changed.

There is a lot of controversy involved in schools actually giving out birth control, according to USA Today. Some parents feel that handing out condoms will encourage teens to have sex; others say it will prevent teen pregnancy. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’d rather my kid talk to me about birth control rather than get it from school, but if she is going to have sex regardless and the birth control is accessible at school, it might not be such a bad idea.

Can it really be any worse than advocating abstinence-only education? We are now seeing the results of that, so maybe giving out condoms can’t be worse.

Christi Aldridge is a senior strategic
communication major from Hillsboro.