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Teen Pregnancy Surges

Study: 10-Year Decline in Teen Pregnancy Ends

continued...

That latter point is reflected in the Guttmacher calculation that a sexually active teen who does not use contraceptives has a nine in 10 chance of becoming pregnant within a year.

Wouldn't abstinence education help? Tortolero and Finer agree that it does. But both say that sexual behavior is changed only by comprehensive sex education that includes abstinence education, and not by abstinence education alone.

Not so, says Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, which advocates abstinence education.

"If you are looking at school-based programs, the primary mode of sex education, abstinence education has stronger results than any comprehensive education," Huber tells WebMD. "And our survey shows that in every topic area -- whether it is how contraception is discussed, discerning healthy and unhealthy relationships, receiving skills for setting future goals -- parents supported abstinence education and the way we present it over comprehensive education."

Huber says abstinence education includes education about contraception but emphasizes delaying initiation of sexual activity. And she says comprehensive education gives short shrift to abstinence -- the best way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

Finer and Tortolero say comprehensive sex education is more effective at promoting abstinence than abstinence education. And Finer says abstinence education focuses on contraceptive failure rates but does not teach correct use of contraceptives.

Teen Pregnancy State Rankings

Teen pregnancy rates vary widely from state to state. The Guttmacher study did not have state-by-state data for 2006 but did calculate rates for 2005, the year before the increase.

Teen pregnancy rates in the table reflect the number of teen pregnancies per 1,000 teens.

State

Rank

2005 Teen Pregnancy Rate, Ages 15-19 (per 1,000)

U.S.total

na

70

District of Columbia

na

165

New Mexico

1

93

Nevada

2

90

Arizona

3

89

Texas

4

88

Mississippi

5

85

Delaware

6

83

Arkansas

7

80

Georgia

8

80

Tennessee

9

79

South Carolina

10

79

New York

11

77

Florida

12

77

Oklahoma

13

76

North Carolina

14

76

California

15

75

Alabama

16

73

Hawaii

17

71

Louisiana

18

70

Colorado

19

69

New Jersey

20

68

Illinois

21

67

Kentucky

22

66

Maryland

23

65

Wyoming**

24

65

Missouri

25

63

Indiana

26

62

Rhode Island

27

62

Ohio

28

62

West Virginia

29

62

Virginia

30

61

Alaska

31

61

Michigan

32

60

Kansas

33

60

Washington

34

59

Oregon

35

57

Connecticut

36

57

Montana

37

56

Idaho

38

55

Pennsylvania

39

53

South Dakota

40

51

Iowa

41

51

Nebraska

42

50

Massachusetts

43

49

Wisconsin

44

47

Utah

45

47

North Dakota

46

45

Minnesota

47

43

Maine

48

43

Vermont

49

40

New Hampshire

50

33

 

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