Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
First, the good news: Teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. are down across the board. The bad news? Sex education isn't to thank.
After analyzing over two decades of data from the National Vital Statistics System and more recent numbers from the National Survey of Family Growth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that births for teens aged 15 to 19 dropped significantly between 1991 and 2012, from 84.1 births per 1,000 teens to only 29.4.
Published today in its latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC's findings also assert that nearly a quarter of sexually active teens aged 15 to 17 have never spoken to a parent about sex education or birth control. Even more staggeringly, "83% reported no formal sex education before first sex." That's not to say they never received any sex ed in school — in fact, 91% of them did. It just didn't happen soon enough.
In addition, the overwhelming majority of teens did use some form of contraception, but many of them relied on methods "among the least effective...primarily condoms without simultaneous use of a more effective method," such as IUDs or hormonal contraceptives. The CDC notes that might have more to do with the fact that teens must obtain such products (or prescriptions) from healthcare providers, rather than a lack of formal education. Even so, about one in four teens who did get pregnant were aged 15 to 17, making it clear that while sex ed is still as important as ever, it needs to start younger. (Daily Beast)