Noonan, Laura
March 2012
Journal of Public & International Affairs;2012, Vol. 22, p28
Academic Journal
Nonmarital births have sharply increased over time, and teenage births remain a significant problem in the United States, both of which are correlated with negative social outcomes. Reviewing evidence on efficacy, or the ability to follow through on the intention to avoid pregnancy, this paper concludes that equal attention should also be paid to strengthening the intention of young adults to avoid pregnancy before they can handle the emotional, legal, and financial consequences. The paper argues that current sexual education programs, which aim to increase participants' knowledge of how to delay sexual activity and effectively use contraception, should be paired with child support education, which emphasizes the economic, emotional, and legal realities of parenting. The Office of Adolescent Health should pilot and evaluate a comprehensive pregnancy prevention curriculum, featuring both sexual education and child support education components, in the form of a mandatory high school program incorporated into existing health classes. The author believes that such a program, which emphasizes both the 'why' and the 'how' of pregnancy prevention, will provide participating young adults with the tools necessary to make informed family planning decisions for years to come, reducing teenage pregnancy rates in the short term, as well as having a greater impact than sexual education alone on nonmarital pregnancy rates in the longer term.


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