June 20, 2016
To arrange an interview with Ascend, contact Christine Eckley
at 202-248-5420 or ceckley@WeAscend.org.
For Immediate Release:
The Federal Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Strikes Out:
Teens Using Less Birth Control; STDs on the Rise
New information from the CDC adds another strike against these programs. This time it is from a new report on teen behavior by the CDC.
Last month, an article in the Journal of Adolescent Health analyzed CDC data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). It indicated that fewer communities are comfortable with the brand of sex education funded through the Obama administration’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program.
TPP programs typically normalize teen sex and then focus on contraceptive demonstrations, distribution, and engage teens in activities that make birth control clinics more attractive, as opposed to activities that make waiting for sex more attractive, so one would expect contraceptive usage among sexually active teens to be on the rise. Not so.
New information from the CDC adds another strike against these programs. This time, it is the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) that delivers the blow. The YRBS data shows that since the TPP program began, sexually active teens are increasingly less, interested in using contraception. Among contraceptive choices, only a condom reduces the risk of STD transmission. However, the surprising news is that sexually active students in 2009 (at the conclusion of the Bush Administration) were more likely to use a condom than in 2015, - and the decrease is statistically significant. And after spending more than a half billion dollars on the Obama administration’s celebrated TPP program, sexually active high schoolers are also less likely to use birth control pills than they did in 2009, and, even more disturbing, the decrease is statistically significant among 12th graders, when they are most likely to be sexually active.
One kind of contraceptive use appears to be increasing and that is long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), largely underwritten by the Affordable Care Act. And, according to YRBS, more sexually active teens are using this highly effective method for preventing pregnancy. However, LARC offers no help in reducing the acquisition of STDs. Therefore, it is essential that anyone who uses LARC (or birth control pills) also use a condom in order to decrease the risk of acquiring an STD. The YRBS survey reports, however, that fewer teens are also using a condom when they use birth control pills, or LARC. “Strike two”.
We know that these sexually active teens are at great risk, especially for STDs.
So it’s not surprising that another CDC report revealed that the prevalence of certain sexually transmitted diseases among young adults have spiked. Although young adults (ages 15-24) only account for about 25% of the sexually active population, the newest data shows that they account for nearly 2/3 of all reported cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea. “Strike three!”
There is good news for Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) education in the YRBS report, though, because teens are waiting for sex in record numbers. Nearly 6 in 10 are making the healthiest choice by waiting for sex.The highest percent to date.
Valerie Huber, President/CEO of Ascend said, “The research continues to reveal that the TPP program, while well intentioned, is not effective, and appears to actually increase risk for vulnerable teens. Taxpayer dollars would be better spent on SRA programs, which give youth the skills and information to avoid all sexual risk. The new data in the CDC’s YRBS report discloses that the SRA approach resonates with an increasing number of teens, and it is uniquely able to help sexually active youth return to a place of health.”
To read the results of the entire CDC study click here.
The NSFG collects interviews in waves, continuously from June 2006 to December 2010 (2006-2010) and from June 2011 to June 2013 (2011-2013).
HHS (2016, June 3, 2016). Replication Studies of Evidence-Based Programs and Policies. Research and Evaluation Conference on Self- Sufficiency (RECS) Annual Conference (June 1-3, 2016), organized by OPRE and convened at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.
 YRBS trend data shows that the percent of teens who have never had sex increased from
45.9 in 1991 to 58.8 in 2015
Ascend (formerly the National Abstinence Education Association) champions youth to make healthy decisions in relationships and life by promoting well being through a primary prevention strategy, and as a national membership and advocacy organization that serves, leads, represents and equips the Sexual Risk Avoidance field.