On Dec. 5, the Centers for Disease Control reported that, after 14 years of decline, the birthrate for women between the ages of 15 and 19 had increased. In 2006, there were 41.9 births for every 1,000 girls in that age range, a 3% rise from 2005.
Why has the teenage birthrate increased after years of decline? Experts are trying to figure it out (experts--please post?) but in the meantime, check out Saturday's op-ed from Meghan Daum of the Los Angeles Times. Writes Daum, after some interesting meditations (which I related to) on being in high school in the 1980s,
Some experts say it's because condoms are not quite the must-have item they once were now that AIDS is increasingly being perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a manageable disease rather than a death sentence. But I also have to wonder if, in the grand scheme of things, pregnancy is just not as frightening to the current crop of teens as it was to past generations. Considering that kids have been forced to think in a very real way about things that can actually kill you, like terrorist attacks and school shootings and, yes, HIV infection, getting pregnant -- and even raising a child -- might seem like a lesser inconvenience. As for embarrassment, these are kids who post their diaries on MySpace. Do we really expect them to abstain because they're afraid of gossip?