While the overall birth rate for teenagers has dropped over the past 25 years in the United States, the news isn’t all good. A new study that examined the use of a baby simulator in sexual education classes found some disturbing trends about the program’s effects on teen pregnancy rates.
There are many research paper topics to focus on for this topic, such as the effectiveness of different sexual education programs currently offered to teens.
Teen birth rate drops
According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2014, the teen pregnancy and birth rate statistics have dropped by 41 percent between 2006 and 2014. This dramatic decrease is good news overall. When broken down by race, Hispanics had the largest decrease, 51 percent, during that time period. African Americans saw a 44 percent decrease and whites had a decrease in teen birth rates of 35 percent.
“Teen Birth Rate Plummets, Including in Minnesota, to All-Time Low” by Susan Perry, April 29, 2016, for MinnPost.com shared more on that data. Despite the overall positive news, the birth rate for Hispanics and African American teens is still twice as high as it is for whites. Perry also cited the financial cost of teen pregnancy—“teen pregnancy and childbirth costs U.S. taxpayers an estimated $9 billion annually.” Research paper topics could examine the societal factors that cause the increase in birth rate among non-whites or the long-term health consequences associated with teen pregnancy for the mother and the child.
Handling teen pregnancy
One sexual education program that has found success is the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, which was profiled by The New York Times in a post, “Tackling Teen Pregnancy (With More Than Just Sex Ed)” by Zoe Greenberg, June 23, 2016.
First developed in 1984, the program focuses on more than simply explaining contraception to prevent teen pregnancy. Instead, it encompasses other health and well-being issues that marginalized teens face. Greenberg wrote, “The key insight behind the program is that it’s not enough to give kids the devices that prevent pregnancy; they must also have a stake in the future, a compelling alternative to getting pregnant.” Research paper topics could look at the economic aspects of paying for quality sexual education versus paying for teen pregnancy.
Controversy about sexual education
There has always been controversy surrounding sexual education, particularly around the topic of abstinence-only programs. However, that may not be the only type of program that is under scrutiny. New research has indicated that the method of using a baby simulator may not be as effective in curtailing the teen birth rate as previously expected. “‘Baby Simulator’ Programs May Make Teen Girls More Likely to Become Pregnant, Study Finds” by Dr. Shali Zhang for abcnews.com, August 25, 2016, shared more on the findings.
The study conducted by researchers at Telethon Kids Institute at University of Western Australia found the use of a baby simulator actually increased the likelihood of a teen pregnancy. Zhang wrote, “The investigators found that girls enrolled in schools that employed infant dolls and education sessions that simulate what having a baby might be like, were about 36 percent more likely to have a pregnancy — at least one birth or abortion by age 20 — compared to those in schools that only employed the standard school curriculum.” Other research paper topics to consider could focus on a history of birth control or sexual education, as society and technology has changed.
Are sexual education courses doing enough to stop teen pregnancy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.