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Reducing Teen Pregnancy in The United States

Reducing Teen Pregnancy in The United States

The United States has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the world, which is difficult to believe given that it is also the most advanced. Over time, the United States has improved its efforts to educate teens about safe sex, the risks and consequences of unprotected sex, and to reduce teen pregnancy. Overall, the United States has improved in these areas, but not all fifty states are as far along in terms of prevention strategies. With the right strategies, these high teen pregnancy rates can be significantly reduced. The United States can reduce teen pregnancy by requiring comprehensive sex education in all schools, making birth control safer and more accessible, targeting males, and holding them equally responsible for the pregnancy.

Not every state in the United States requires sex education for students; however, without proper education on safe sex, teens are more likely to become pregnant. According to youth advocates, many schools that do participate in sex education only promote abstinence rather than providing comprehensive education on safe sex (Alford). “Research shows that youth who received comprehensive sex education were half as likely as those who received “abstinence only” education to become pregnant.” Alford 2. More comprehensive sex education programs in schools would reduce teen pregnancy and raise awareness of safe sex; “programs in place reduce the frequency of sexual activity, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase condom and contraceptive use.” Alford 2. “Since 1997, the federal government has invested more than $1.5 billion dollars in abstinence-only programs” (Alford 4). Abstinence-only programs promote the idea of “no sex at all” to teens. These programs monitor and exclude vital information that could assist young people in protecting their health and reducing teen pregnancy. “Until recently, the only type of sex education eligible for federal funding was all programs that met a strict abstinence-only definition; no funding existed for comprehensive sex education” (Alford 4). Teens are more likely to be at risk if they only receive abstinence-only information about sex and are forced to participate in non-sexual activities. Schools, particularly those with a high proportion of at-risk students, should advocate for sexual education. Teens from low-income families and women of color have the highest rates of teen pregnancy. “Non-Hispanic black teen birth rates are nearly twice as high as non-Hispanic white teen birth rates, and American Indian/Alaska Native teen birth rates remain more than one and a half times higher than non-Hispanic white teen birth rates.” (Regarding Teen Pregnancy). While schools are focusing on these at-risk students, they should also implement programs that promote academic success and self-esteem in these students.

Although birth control and contraception are widely available in some areas, they are not in all. Birth control is more readily available to people who have health insurance or Medicaid, and even if teens have access to these options, they may be concerned about the side effects. The idea of birth control is appealing, but the risks are enough to steer some teenagers away from it. “The FDA has approved many new forms of contraception since 1984, giving women more options.” Birth control is available in a variety of forms for teenagers, including male condoms, oral contraceptives, shots, skin patches, and IUDs. The options for birth control are numerous, but they are not without risk. These dangers range from minor to severe. “Breast growth, weight gain/loss, nausea, mood swings, and decreased libido are the milder risks of birth control.” (The Dangers Every Woman Should Be Aware Of). Cervical/breast cancer, heart attacks, migraines, infertility, and an increased risk of blood clotting are among the more “severe risks.” (The Dangers Every Woman Should Be Aware Of). These risks alone should deter any adolescent from pursuing any of these options. Teens may believe that birth control is too dangerous for their health and that they would be better off using another form of contraception or none at all. Teens would be more interested in hormonal birth control methods if they were more affordable and had fewer side effects. In addition to the negative side effects, birth control can be very expensive for teenagers who do not have health insurance. “Birth control pills range in price from $0 to $50 per month.” (Is the Birth Control Pill Safe? With the cost of birth control pills and the actual doctor’s appointment, it can quickly add up. Even if some teenagers have insurance, they may be reluctant to go to a doctor for fear of their parents finding out or due to personal beliefs. Birth control pills should thus be made more affordable and accessible to all teenagers. When they require birth control, they should be able to do so in a discreet and comfortable manner.

The majority of the time, adolescent females are targeted to prevent teen pregnancy. Almost every informational packet on teen pregnancy prevention only provides information for females and never for males. When both genders should be included equally because it takes two to get pregnant, and males are just as responsible as females; therefore, both should be equally involved in taking precautionary measures. “14 percent of sexually experienced males aged 15 to 19 have contributed to their partner becoming pregnant.” Sonesteen (13). Teen males frequently have more pride than girls and believe they do not need to be informed about teen pregnancy, or they are too embarrassed to ask for information. If males were targeted in the same way as females, it could significantly reduce teen pregnancy. “The majority of young men believe that they should not be held accountable for preventing teen pregnancy.” 22 (Sonestein). Given that the majority of men believe they are not to blame for the pregnancy, a program tailored specifically to them is required. Male mentoring groups would be a great place to start because teen males may feel more comfortable and trusting of their mentors, allowing them to be more open to discussing sex, risks, and options. “Teenage males who are embarrassed about condoms and believe condoms reduce physical pleasure are less likely to use condoms on a regular basis.” 21 (Sonestein). Parents are also more concerned and biased toward their daughters being more at risk than their sons; “less than half of males ever receive contraceptive or sex information from their parents.” 25 (Sonestein). Males should be treated and informed about sex and teen pregnancy in the same way by society and their families. The first step in assisting males to become more informed begins at home and with the elimination of gender bias.

The United States’ resources are incredible today, and they are only getting better. Technology and social media alone are insufficient to educate all teens about the risks of teen pregnancy and contraceptive options. The rate of teen pregnancies could be significantly reduced if the United States included adequate funding for comprehensive sex education, made birth control safer and more affordable, and targeted males as well as females.


Alford, Sue. “Comprehensive Sex Education: Research and Results (2009)”.

Advocates for Youth, Retrieved 3 Mar. 2018,


“America’s Sex Education: How We are Failing Our Students (2017)”.

The University of South Carolina, 18 Sept. 2017. education/.

Bratsis, M. E. (2015). Reducing teen pregnancy. The Science Teacher, 82(6), 12. Retrieved from

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“Teen Pregnancy in the United States (2017)”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 May. 2017,

“What Can Schools Do to Prevent Teen Pregnancy? (2016)”. University of Missouri, 8 Dec.

2016, “How Safe is The Birth Control Pill (2018)”. Planned Parenthood, Retrieved 3 March. 2018, birth-control-pill

“The Dangers Every Woman Needs to Know About Birth Control (2018). Body Ecology, Retrieved 3 March. 2018,

Sonestein, Freya and Stewart, Kellie. “Involving Males in Preventing Teen Pregnancy (1997)”.

Urban Institute, Retrieved 3 March. 2018, Preventing-Teen-Pregnancy.PDF


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In an attempt to prevent teenage pregnancy, the Children’s Defense Fund created posters of adolescent mothers and their babies with the caption “It’s like being grounded for 18 years.” More recent campaigns have focused on abstinence.

Reducing Teen Pregnancy in The United States

Reducing Teen Pregnancy in The United States

Neither approach has been shown to drastically reduce the teen pregnancy rate in the US. What do you think would be more effective at reducing unplanned teen pregnancy? First, identify the type of behavior you want to target and then describe your campaign. Why do you think this campaign would be more effective than those we’ve seen in the past? 350 words minimum

APA style

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