School Based Sex Education and Teen Pregnancy

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Effects of School Based Sex Education and the Rate of Teen Pregnancy Katherine Marsella
Dr. Gayle Brosnan-Watters
Arizona State University

Abstract
The proposed correlation study would examine the relationship between school based sex education and the rate of teen pregnancy. Teen pregnancy rates in the United States exceed one million each year, generating the top pregnancy rates of any Western developed country (Mitchell-DiCenso, 1997). This study used a group of 250 students who are enrolled in 7th and 8th grade schools with a school based sex education program and 250 students who are enrolled in schools without sex education programs. The results of this study are expected to show that students who were exposed to school based sex education have a lower rate of teen pregnancies than students who were not exposed to school based sex education. Educating teens on the uses of contraception could significantly lower the number of teen pregnancies in the United States each year.

Effects of School Based Sex Education and the Rate of Teen Pregnancy Teen pregnancy rates in the United States exceed one million each year, generating the top pregnancy rates of any Western developed country (Mitchell-DiCenso, 1997). The staggering rate of pregnancy among American teenagers clearly demonstrates that there is a significant need to educate teens on the consequences of their sexual activity. According to Mitchell-Dicenso (1997), the rate at which teens are becoming sexuality active continues to rise, and as a consequence of improper contraceptive use, pregnancy rates are also increasing causing health and economic concerns among this group. A study by Bennett and Nassim (2005) shows that the birthrate of unmarried American woman giving birth between the ages 15-19 has quadrupled from 1960 to 1992. Thomas and Dimitrov (2007) project that fewer than 25% of American teenagers under the age of 15 have engaged in sexual activity; therefore if teenagers can be reached before the age of 15 and are educated on the risks of sexual activity we may be able to change their attitudes towards sexual behaviors. It is predicted that 1.65 million pregnancies are avoided in the US each year through the proper use of contraception. Bennett (2005) found that 75% of teenagers engaging in intercourse for the first time will use some method of contraception, and that of teenagers using contraception, only 30% will use it regularly. Research by Mauldon (1996) shows that a teenage woman is more likely to use contraception when engaging in sexual activity if she has been introduced to a contraceptive education program. Teenagers are also one-third more inclined to use condoms when taught about birth control. Sex education laws are only present in 38 states. The states that do not have any laws in regards to sex education only have policies that schools can follow if they choose (Stanger-Hall & Hall, 2011). It is important to provide information to all 50 states showing that school based sex education programs do influence teenagers choices when it comes to sexual behaviors, so that all 50 states can implement sex education laws. Mitchell-DiCenso (1997) found that the best method to prevent teenage pregnancy was exposure to school based sex education programs. The hypothesis that will be investigated is whether school based sex education programs have an effect on the pregnancy rate among teens. The results of this study should provide additional data that supports the need for continued school based sex education by showing lower rates of pregnancy among educated teens. Participates would be selected from middle schools in an area with a high rate of teen pregnancy, a group of 250 students (125 female and 125 male) who are enrolled in 7th and 8th grade schools with a school based sex education program and 250 students (125 female and 125 male) who are enrolled in schools without sex education programs. The students receiving sex education...
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