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Teen Birth Rate Keeps Dropping; The Reasons Why Are Surprising

The Short of It

If you thought there was a rise in the number of teens having sex and in teen pregnancies, you thought wrong. Both stats have gone down.

The Lowdown

A report just released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that since 2000, the total teen birth rate has fallen almost 45 percent. Among 15- to 17-year-olds, it's dropped 54 percent.

The CDC also says that in 1991, the percent of high school students who reported ever having sex was 54.1. In 2013, it was 46.8 percent. Today's teens are waiting longer to become sexually active and having sex with fewer partners. More than 85 percent of those who are sexually active report using contraception.

The Upshot

Researchers say there are several reasons for these surprising and positive stats. For one, the government has invested in sex-ed programs that emphasize the importance of safe sex and preventing unplanned pregnancy.

Also, teens are more aware of the hardships of becoming teenage parents because of TV reality shows like "Teen Mom" and "16 and Pregnant." The current state of the economy could play a role, too.

"I'm not actually suggesting teens are checking their 401(k) before hopping into the sack," Bill Albert, a spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, told Newsweek. "But they're definitely aware of what's going on in the world, and the uncertainty and hardships they witness can create a 'sobering effect.'"

So, it looks like when teens are given information, the brutal truth and the proper tools, they can be empowered to make good choices that affect their future positively. I'm relieved by this news and hope the rate continues to decline.

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