Children Having Children

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Today, fewer teens are getting pregnant, but at the same time, teens are having sex at an younger age than in previous years. What is the reason for these trends, and what can be done to ensure that teens are making positive, safe choices about sex?

by Makayla Scerbo

Picture Source: thenationalcampaign.org

Intro: Decline In Teen Pregnancy

Teen pregnancy has been a hot topic for years. However, in recent years, teen pregnancy has declined immensely. In 2015, a total of 229,715 babies were delivered by girls ages 15–19 years, a birth rate of 22.3 per 1,000 women. This is a record low for United States teens and a drop of 8% from 2014. In 2015, birth rates fell 9% for women aged 15–17 years and 7% for women aged 18–19 years. According to new data from the CDC, “Since 1991 the overall teen pregnancy rate has decreased by 64 percent.” What are teens of recent years doing differently that has led to this decline?

One of the main reasons for this decline is the prevalence of better sex education in high schools. When a school teaches the proper lessons about sex education to teens across the world, teen pregnancy decreases. Between 1991 and 2004, the U.S. teen birth rate fell from 62 to 41per 1,000 female teens. This was after a big movement to teach more safe sex lessons at schools across America. If teens are not educated they will make mistakes.

Another reason the teen pregnancy rate has dropped is because of better birth control methods. Let’s be honest: abstinence is not as prevalent now as it was decades ago. By teaching teens what they need to know about sex and birth control, schools may not prevent teens from experimenting with sex, but they can prevent unwanted pregnancy that could lead to stress and other serious issues for teens. A pregnant teenager who decides to get an abortion or use other methods of at home abortion. They can face stress and mental anguish. Teens are not ready for the emotional and physical stress of going through a pregnancy.

The drop in the national average of teen pregnancies also raises the question, “If teens are having sex much younger than ever, what will that do to their future?” In an article in Publication of the New York Times, Dr. Allan Bruckheim poses thought-provoking questions about the situations teens find themselves in and the stress of early sex.

Bruckheim states, “If the early sexual experience is flawed by a fearsome episode, such as the discovery by an adult, exploitation, shame, punishment or pressure into the act, then an early sexual experience may lead to sexual problems later in life. Feelings of shame, anxiety, embarrassment, guilt and regret may lead to wrong sexual development.” This means that teens can associate a bad or damaging sexual encounter with all sex. Early activity may make the teen unable to endure normal personal growth and leave him or her unable to successfully have appropriate relationships involving trust and positive sexual expression.

Younger Teens Having Sex

The drop in the national average of teen pregnancies also raises the question, “If teens are having sex much younger than ever, what will that do to their future?” In Publication of the New York Times, Dr. Bruckheim also poses thought-provoking questions about the situations teens find themselves in and the stress of early sex. Dr. Allan states, “If the early sexual experience is flawed by a fearsome episode, such as the discovery by an adult, exploitation, shame, punishment or pressure into the act, then an early sexual experience may lead to sexual problems later in life. Feelings of shame, anxiety, embarrassment, guilt and regret may lead to wrong sexual development.”

Bruckheim means that teens can associate a bad or damaging sexual encounter with all sex. Early activity may make the teen unable to endure normal personal growth and leave him or her unable to successfully have appropriate relationships involving trust and positive sexual expression.

Dr. Allan brings up many good points in this statement: The first point concerns peer pressure. If a teen’s peers are having sex, those teens will bow to that pressure. Another point is how sexually active teens may experience shame and anxiety. This mainly applies to the form of bullying known as “slut shaming.” If a girl has sex at a young age, she may get labelled with derogatory names. Therefore, her self-esteem will drop because of the constant teasing. All of these points raise a vital question: “What is the right age to have sex?”

The answer may vary from culture to culture, but in the states the legal age ranges from 16-18. Most states age of consent is 18. This has become the norm in the United States, the “acceptable” age to start engaging in sex. This thought is probably tied in to the fact that when you turn 18, you’re classified as an adult. However, there are children having sex at age 13 in other parts of the world where it is socially acceptable. The age in which someone engages in sex has somewhat to do with their culture and environment, but mostly it has to do with whether the individual is ready and mature.

The shift in trends mirrors a shift in attitudes about teen sex, and more shifts may occur. One thing remains certain, though: If and when teens choose to practice sex, it should be when they are ready and are safe about it. In the end, sex is a personal decision, but it should be a safe decision.

 

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