Friday, February 6, 2009

Responding to the "Myth" of Teen Pregnancy

Last week Tara Parker-Pope wrote a piece for the NY Times on how reports of teenage pregnancy have been overblown by the media and over-cautious parents. Planned Parenthood of New York City sent in a letter to the editor that I thought would be interesting to share here:

Dear Editor,

While Tara Parker-Pope is not yet ready to sound the alarm on teen pregnancy ("The Myth…" 1/27/09), her article glazes over a stark reality: teen pregnancy and STD rates for young women in the United States are higher than those in any other industrialized nation in the world.

Additionally, teen pregnancy and STD rates for women of color in the U.S. are disproportionately higher than those of the overall population, with African-American and Hispanic rates nearly three times those of white women. For all the mainstream media stories sensationalizing teenage sexuality, this is the statistic that goes largely overlooked.

While the hype surrounding teens and sex will likely continue, it has yet to lead to effective, comprehensive sex education programs, especially ones that reach at risk youth. Let's continue this conversation, but let's also give our kids access to the services and information they need to stay safe and healthy.

Joan Malin
President and CEO of Planned Parenthood NYC

While teenage sexuality has without a doubt been sensationalized in the media, it's too soon to put away the alarm bells all together. Even though it's not as bad as, say, Oprah's report on the Teen Oral Sex epidemic (and that means an epidemic of teens having oral sex not an epidemic passed through oral sex) might suggest, our work isn't done yet.

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