By: Stephanie Moos
Teenage pregnancy has always been a prevalent problem. It is a ceaseless game of misinformation and blame. Parents blame the school for not providing their children with a proper education about having safe sex and the consequences of not having safe sex, such as the STDs one can contract. Or worse, an unplanned pregnancy. However, in spite of whatever beliefs the school or parents may have, that does not grant them the right to deprive young adults the right to formal instruction on having safe sex.
Young women have the right to explore their sexuality. It is in our biological nature to want to have sex. Therefore, teenagers need to stop being told sex is a sin, that abstinence is the key to preventing unprotected sex. Yes, of course abstinence is highly effective…but it is also unrealistic. All parents should be concerned about their kids having access to the resources they need, and ensure they know how to have safe sex prior to doing it.
While women in the United States certainly have more access to contraceptives and other resources to prevent and help young women during unplanned pregnancy, there still lies the issue of poor sex education. Lack of education in addition to not having anything to prevent unwanted pregnancy only leads to more pregnancies. Society needs to accept this is the 21st century, that teenagers will have sex, well-informed or not, and provide these young men and women with the knowledge and tools to prepare for and engage in safe sexual intercourse.
From 2011-2013, over 80% of young adults aged 15-19 obtained instruction regarding STDs, HIV and saying no to sex, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Conversely, a mere 55% of male adolescents and 60% of female adolescents obtained instruction regarding birth control methods. The years 2006-2010 and 2011-2013 saw significant declines in young women having instruction about birth control, saying no to sex, STDs and HIV/AIDS in addition to young men receiving instruction regarding birth control. Additionally, 43% of young men and 57% of young women do not obtain instruction about contraception prior to having sexual intercourse, and only 31% of young men and 46% of young women received information about where to purchase birth control.
According to The Daily Sentinel, the lack of a Planned Parenthood in Grand Junction impacts the way women can get access to resources, or to receive an abortion if needed. Manny Cisneros, a representative for Pro-Choice Colorado, stated the company was endeavoring to work on a shuttle that would travel to Glenwood Springs for adolescents and young women in need of such services. The plan for the shuttle is currently being finalized.
In 2014, a total number of 249,948 babies were born to women between the age of 15-19 years, resulting in a birth rate of 24.2 per 1,000 women within this age range, according to the CDC. While this is a nine percent decrease in teen pregnancies compared to 2013, it remains a significant issue that needs to be addressed. According to the 2015-2017 Community Health Needs Assessment, since 2000, Mesa County has seen a drop in teenage pregnancies for women aged 15-19, with teenage birth rates at 28.0 per 100,000. These rates continue to be much higher compared to the rest of Colorado, at 19.4 per 100,000.
Although circumstances are certainly improving and various forms of contraceptives are being provided to young men and women, sex education remains an important problem. Only with proper sex education that outlines the positive and negative aspects of sex and becomes informative rather than fear-inducing will society begin to see a difference in the number of teenage pregnancies in the country and in Grand Junction.