Is abstinence working to prevent teenage pregnancies? (Blue States vs Red States)

Up into this point, I have written mainly about business topics.  Today, I will comment on a sociological issue with the adolescence in America.  This morning I came across an interesting article from the New Yorker magazine about teenage pregnancies.   The article quotes a bunch of statistics that seem to indicate that the red states have a higher percentage for teen pregnancies, divorces, and STDs.  I think the danger of statistics is that it can be easily manipulated to favor one point of view over another.  The article does make some very good points from some sociologists for this phenomenon. 

Many social conservatives advocate abstinence until marriage, and they do not believe in teaching contraception and the transmission of STDs.  Social liberals on the other hand, mostly believe in education about prevention and providing enough information for children to make an informed decision.  

Apparently many social conservatives do not attend church regularly, and the temptation to practice abstinence becomes more difficult.  Part of the reasons for the higher incidence of teen pregnancies for social conservatives is because of the lower usage of birth control and abortion.  Since many social conservatives tend to marry younger, financial problems is usually the center of many marital disputes, and thus, the divorce rate is higher.

Abstinence pledges seem to work if there is less than 30% of the peer group has pledged. If the percentage of pledged is greater, abstinence no longer becomes special for the teen.

Here is a quote from the article that mentions that in addition to the differences between social conservatives and liberals, socioeconomic status also plays a role, too.

Some of these differences in sexual behavior come down to class and education. Regnerus and Carbone and Cahn all see a new and distinct “middle-class morality” taking shape among economically and socially advantaged families who are not social conservatives. In Regnerus’s survey, the teen-agers who espouse this new morality are tolerant of premarital sex (and of contraception and abortion) but are themselves cautious about pursuing it. Regnerus writes, “They are interested in remaining free from the burden of teenage pregnancy and the sorrows and embarrassments of sexually transmitted diseases. They perceive a bright future for themselves, one with college, advanced degrees, a career, and a family. Simply put, too much seems at stake. Sexual intercourse is not worth the risks.” These are the kids who tend to score high on measures of “strategic orientation”—how analytical, methodical, and fact-seeking they are when making decisions. Because these teen-agers see abstinence as unrealistic, they are not opposed in principle to sex before marriage—just careful about it.”

As I had mentioned earlier, there is the danger of statistics, but the article presents some persuasive arguments in sexual education for teens.  I think presenting a multitude of view points as well as information for these adolescents can only enable them to make a better decision.


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