Alarming Study Shows Teen Ignorance

Would you believe that a significant number of teenage mothers say they didn’t know they could get pregnant? Could teens really be this clueless? Are we failing to educate our teens on basic sex facts?

Teen girl pregnancy test

A study on teen pregnancy recently appeared in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers found that a large number of teenage participants didn't realize they could get pregnant, leaving plenty of parents asking, "What were they thinking?"

The study

The U.S. leads the developed world when it comes to teens giving birth (approximately 400,000 teens give birth each year). In an effort to determine why teens who want to avoid pregnancy become pregnant, this study questioned 5,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 who qualified their pregnancies as unintended.

Of the 50.1 percent who said they didn't use any contraceptive methods, 31.4 percent said they didn't believe they could get pregnant at the time. While these numbers indicate the prevalence of a tremendous misconception, the study didn't probe further into the reasons behind these thoughts. Clearly teens aren't being taught basic sex facts, but who is responsible for this lack of education?

Read about discussing sex and birth control with your teen >>

What were they thinking?

Bill Albert, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.based National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, tells the Associated Press, "This report underscores how much misperception, ambivalence and magical thinking put teens at risk for unintended pregnancy."

This study sounds the alarm for parents who may think their child will make wise decisions when it comes to sex. "I think I've done a pretty good job explaining the birds and the bees," says Amy, a mother of two from Colorado. "But this study makes me want to take the message even further, just to make sure there is no discrepancy when it comes to the facts. I'm really floored by these numbers."

Find out how to tell the family your teen is pregnant >>

A parenting dilemma

Talking to kids about sex is a necessary, but often uncomfortable, parenting responsibility. Does this study indicate that parents aren't fulfilling this crucial responsibility?

"I don't know many parents who really enjoy talking to their kids about sex," says Nicole, a mother of two from Los Angeles. "But parenting isn't easy. I'd rather be a little uncomfortable and make sure my kids understand what leads to pregnancy than have my child face hugely adult challenges before she's prepared."

Ask yourself, are we glamorizing teen moms? >>

The take away

This study is full of alarming findings but the two that stand out are that half of unintended teenage mothers say they didn't use any contraception and that a third of those teens say they didn't realize they could get pregnant. Above all, this study highlights a significant communication breakdown when it comes to teens and sex facts. Perhaps parents can embrace these findings when considering how to approach the topic with their teens.

Read the complete study here.

Tell us

Does it surprise you to learn how many teens don't know the birds and the bees? Do you talk sex facts with your teen?

Read more about teenage pregnancy

Teenage pregnancy tips
The teens and birth control debate
School passing out condoms to elementary students

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Comments

Comments on "Sex Facts: Clueless teens are getting pregnant"

Janet Humphries September 21, 2013 | 8:56 AM

My sixteen year old girl is pregnant. She said she didn't have and couldn't figure out how she got pregnant. The doctor confirmed she was still a virgin. Turns out the only thing they did was ... my daughter was straddling her boyfriend... both were fully clothed and he ejaculated. The doctor said this was extremely possible. Why don't they teach this? I never knew or would have said something!

JODI BUCCAFURRI February 21, 2012 | 5:51 PM

MY 16 YR OLD IS PREGNANT AND TERRIFIED.. SHE ACTUALLY SAID TO ME HOW DID IT HAPPEN. ANYWAY'S HE BOYFIEND WANTS HER TO KEEP IT. HE WINS OUT. I am so upset I DID'T HAVE HER UNTIL i was 3.SME FRIENDS ASKED ME IF SHE WATCHED TEEN PREGANCY SHOW. I KNOW I DID ANDI THINK IT GIVES A OK THEME LIKE IT'S ACCPTED ANDYOU COULD BECOME A CELEBRITY VERY UPSET MOM. MY DAUGHTER'S LIFE I RUINEDAS WELLAS MINE..

Nick Esquer January 26, 2012 | 1:23 PM

It seems as though shows like "Teen Mom" are promoting teen pregnancy, that somehow it's a good thing. Or even worse, a trendy thing. Sad.

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