A University of Texas study funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services says expanding sexual health education in public schools could help reduce teen births in Texas, a state with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country. Texas dropped a health education requirement for high school students in 2009, making it one of the only states in the country not to require it.
Traditionally, it was thought that the best way to prevent teen pregnancy was to encourage kids to wait until they finish school and get a job before having kids. The report found that teens and parents of all ethnic groups tend to agree. Yet teenage girls are still getting pregnant and having babies.
To combat obstacles to preventing teenage pregnancy, the researchers recommend:
- expanding sexual health education programs in schools,
- providing alternatives to college such as vocational training and increasing opportunities to combine work and education so that teens can more easily complete their education before having children,
- promoting equal responsibility for pregnancy and the use of contraception among males and females,
- and fostering open communication between parents and teens regarding sex.
The study found that the factors with the most influence over teenage pregnancy rates were parent-teen communication and access to contraception.