Teenage pregnancy rate drops, teenage virginity rate rises

Over 10 years, the U.S. teen pregnancy and abortion rates have dropped and teen virginity has increased, reports the Abstinence Clearinghouse, citing three separate studies.

The first study, released by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), indicates that there was an overall decline of 28 percent in the teenage pregnancy rate for women between the ages of 15 and 19, from 1990 to 2000.  In 2000, 83.6 in 1,000 women in this age group became pregnant compared with 116.9 per 1,000 women in 1990.

According to AGI, declines occurred in all racial and ethnic groups. The rate among black adolescents declined 32 percent to 153 per 1,000 women. Among white teenagers, it declined 28 percent to 71 per 1,000. Among Hispanic teens, it fell 15 percent to 139 per 1,000.

Teen pregnancy rates in 2000 varied widely by state, ranging from 42 per 1,000 women in North Dakota to 128 per 1,000 in the District of Columbia, AGI reported.

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2002, indicated that the percentage of teens, who abstain from sexual activity, rose from 45.9 percent in 1991 to 54.4 in 2001.

The third study Abstinence Clearinghouse cites is one published in Adolescent and Family Health in 2003, called "An Analysis of the Causes in the Decline in Non-marital Birth and Pregnancy Rates for Teens from 1991 to 1995." It attributes most of the decline in the teen pregnancy rate to abstinence.

"This rate drop is great news," said Leslee Unruh, president of Abstinence Clearinghouse. "As abstinence education has spread from a few classrooms in the 1980s to thousands of schools across the country today, the message is getting through. Teens are making decisions for virginity, and the results are clear."

The Abstinence Clearinghouse is the largest nonprofit organization for abstinence education and advocacy. It helps professionals educate adolescents and unmarried adults on the communication skills, relationship information and factual knowledge necessary to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.

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