Bulletin: Teens Can Choose Right

Article excerpt

Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that the teenage birth rate, which has edged downward every year since 1991, now stands at its lowest level in 60 years.

No, this is not simply the result of more contraceptives and more abortions. The CDC also reports a 28 percent decrease in teen abortions during the '90s, and a 9 percent decrease in teen pregnancy. "Teenagers frankly are more conservative sexually," says Bill Albert, spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Most significant of all, more teens are simply avoiding sexual activity altogether. Data from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey show the proportion of high school males who have had sexual intercourse declined from 57.4 percent in 1991 to 52.2 percent in 1999. Among girls, the decline was from 50.8 percent to 47.7 percent. Overall, a majority of U.S. high school students are now virgins, and very large majorities are currently abstinent.

"Abstinence has exploded over the last ten years," says Peter Brandt of Focus on the Family. Numerous formal programs to teach abstinence to teens have sprouted since Congress established a small office to support such efforts at the same time it passed welfare reform. More than 80 percent of all school districts now require their sex education programs to emphasize abstinence. Fully a third require abstinence-only programs. Only 14 percent of all school districts now present "safe sex" contraception-centered programs. …