Following trends from the past several years, a report released Thursday by the Center for Disease Control indicates that all those crazy anti-teen pregnancy ads might be working, because the rate of teen births dropped 25 percent between 2007 and 2011. In case you'd like to go visit those teenagers and give them a high-five, the Susies and Brads who should be getting a special shout-out for their ability to put a bag on it live in what are deemed The Mountain States (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Utah). They're also Hispanic!
This recent data is part of a larger trajectory of lower numbers that have been dropping since 1991, but study leaders indicate that "much of the decline" they've seen has been focused in the last several years. The places that should feel left out of all this non-stop, no-baby partying? North Dakota and West Virginia, which saw little to no change in teen birth rates. This is pretty unsurprising, given the really stellar laws and programs they've got in those states concerning abortion and birth control.
The CDC's Brady Hamilton told the Associated Press that the lowered rates for Hispanic teens were "just amazing." The AP wants to make perfectly clear, though, that there's no real understanding of what exactly is provoking these steep declines in numbers, stating that, "Experts believe the explanation is complicated and probably varies a bit from state to state." With Hispanic teens, they're willing to speculate that tightening immigration regulations play a part, but the bit about state to state rings as more solid; we've seen in states that are successfully implementing teen pregnancy prevention programs that it doesn't just take one approach – it takes a lot of them.
Because of this, the CDC notes that the discrepancies between states is probably due to the discrepancies between state policies about teen pregnancy:
"Recent data from the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance Survey also show wide variation across states in the extent to which sexually active teenagers are using the most effective methods of contraception."
They also note that (SURPRISE!) "strong teen pregnancy prevention messages" and "increased use of contraception at first sex and the use of dual methods of contraception" have helped.
Before you get too excited about the recent five year drop, it could also very well be associated with the lower birth rate across the country that often occurs during periods when there's an economic downturn. You know, like how people want to make babies when there's a blackout but definitely not when their life might be a blackout...or something.
But yeah, let's have a party for all those teens, who maybe aren't as dumb as they look! The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy's Bill Albert will be bringing the dip:
"Geography, politics, or policy alone simply cannot explain the widespread declines. Credit goes to teens themselves who are clearly making better decisions about sex, contraception, and their future."
Who's bringing the chips?
Image via Facebook/Chart via CDC