By Amy Kramer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
Now this is cause for celebration.
Just in time for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, the CDC announced that the U.S. teen birth rate has hit another historic low. Leading the pack are black and Hispanic teens, whose rates of teen birth have dropped by nearly half in the past decade. Among Hispanic teens, rates have fallen 51% since 2006. Among African Americans, the drop is 44%. That’s a big deal -- and a huge success -- on a complicated issue.
But even all this progress isn't victory. About one in four girls in the U.S. gets pregnant before the age of 20. And even with the remarkable achievements of the past 10 years, rates for black and Hispanic girls are still twice that of white girls.
There are two main factors behind the decline in teen motherhood: Teenagers are having less sex overall, and they are better at protecting themselves when they do. There are more birth control methods available now than in generations past, and there are more people waiting longer to have sex. Sex education helps too, although not everyone gets that in school. Communicating about topics like sex, love, relationships and birth control with a parent or trusted adult is also helpful.
As anyone who watches 16 and Pregnant or Teen Mom knows, being a teen parent is hard. In fact, some experts say that the popularity of these shows has contributed to the declines. But at the end of the day, the only ways to prevent pregnancy are to either not have sex or to use birth control.
You can find out everything you need to know about birth control at bedsider.org. And since it’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, you can take a quiz at StayTeen.org to figure out what you might do in the heat of the moment. And check out the video, below, featuring some of your favorite MTV stars talking about the importance of birth control: