Results of a new survey show a dearth of knowledge of basic human biology among America's teens, especially when pants are off and hormones are running high. How bad is it? About half of the teens who got pregnant while not using any form of birth control say they didn't contraceptively arm themselves because they didn't believe that it was possible for them to get pregnant. Another quarter didn't wrap it up because their partner pressured them to go au naturel. Oh, brother.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey compiled answers from 5,000 of teenage girls who experienced unplanned pregnancies and gave birth between 2004 and 2008. Some of the findings are encouraging, in a glass half full sort of way; for example, only 13% of teen moms cited difficulty obtaining birth control as their reasoning for not using birth control. Good! But now, for the bad: about half of the girls surveyed say they weren't using any sort of birth control. And their reasons for eschewing safe sex are depressing as hell.
A quarter of those who didn't use birth control say they didn't because their partner didn't want them to. That means that there are hundreds of babies born within a recent four year time span to girls who didn't plan on being mothers, that the trajectory of thousands of lives were altered in ways that can never be un-altered because some teenage boy's penis wanted to have a good time for like ten minutes.
Additionally, a third of overall survey respondents justified their not using birth control by claiming that they thought they were somehow immune to pregnancy. The survey didn't follow up by asking what on God's green earth possessed them to think that they were immune to biological reality for the vast majority of post-menarche human females, but, as TIME reports, other surveys of teen moms have shown that many girls don't believe that they can get pregnant the first time they have sex, or while they're on their periods, or if they wish upon a star that their eggs remain unfertilized.
Educators hope to use these findings in designing sex ed curriculum that helps train girls to deal with pushy partners who insist on barebacking, but I'd also hope that focus could be turned to the pushy partners themselves. While the physical consequences of unprotected sex often fall disproportionately on the female partner, the onus to prevent teen pregnancy shouldn't be on girls. Boys need to learn that trying to talk someone into risking their partner's health and future because sex sans condom feels totally awesome is a fucked up way to behave. And sex ed programs need to teach kids that there are serious risks to having unprotected sex, and arm students with the knowledge they need to protect themselves.
If Purity Bear had anything to say about this, all those teen moms would be teen shotgun brides by now.
Photo illustration by Jim Cooke and Shutterstock.