The Rise of Teen Pregnancies: A Review of the Literature

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Every year about 750,000 girls will get pregnant in the United States and as a result of this we are seeing a steadily increase on teen pregnancy (Pregnant Teen Help, 2005). In this generation having sex young can be considered “OK” but consequences come from those actions. This literature review examines the cause of the increase of teen pregnancies and solutions that is able to reduce the number of teen pregnancies in the United States. This paper views different perspectives on the issue of the distribution of condoms at public schools and comprehensive sex education and whether there is any effectiveness from these two main solutions.


Over a decade the United States has seen an increase rise on teen pregnancy once again. There have been many solutions out there in the open that can help reduce teen pregnancy but some have failed to do so. Two main solutions that may help reduce teen pregnancy are teaching sex education and distributing condoms at public schools. Although, there are few in the United States who would disagree otherwise. As this heated debate continues to rise, this literature review will answer the following questions:

1.      What is causing the increase rise on teen pregnancy?

2.      What can schools do to help decrease teen pregnancy?

3.      How effective is comprehensive sex education?

Throughout this essay, both points of views of this issue will show the reasons teen pregnancy is on the rise again and what we can do to try to decrease the number of teen pregnancies there are in America today.

What is causing the increase rise on teen pregnancy?

The increase rise on teen pregnancy have left many wondering what is happening today in the United States, but what they need to search for is what is causing the increase rise on teen pregnancy to become a serious problem. According to Dr. Alvarez (2010), “our society has created a cultural that makes having sex OK, and creating an environment where promiscuity is accepted.”  Many have believed that today’s social media and the internet is highly exposed to everyone and can be one the reasons on the rise of teen pregnancy, such as Alvarez has concluded. Others might disagree otherwise such as Alexander Wright; a college student majoring in psychology who was interviewed to see what he thought about the cause of rise of teen pregnancy was due to the social media and the internet. Wright disagrees on the idea that social media and the internet have to do with the cause of teen pregnancy. He explained as followed:

            Today’s generation is different from the past generations, teens are going to have sex no matter what, the internet or social media has no affect to cause teen pregnancy, parents just need to be able to know how communicate better to their teens to have safe sex and consequences that may come from their actions. (Alexander Wright, personal communication, 2010)

Although, can this really be the reason why or could it be the lack of education given to teens about sex?

            Research by Cynthia Bowers (2010), conducted that the main cause can be that no one is paying attention to girls who are living in poverty, whose birth rate has never declined since the past decade but increased over 60%, and the fact that schools lack sex education. However, it can be interpret that many factors such as poverty, the media, internet, or even peer pressure can be leading factors on teen pregnancy. In fact, in Figure 1 teens say their major influence to have sex was based on their morals, religion, and values. For the past decade, the United States can also be the blame for not seeing the increase rise on teen pregnancy coming mostly from those who live in poverty but solutions such as sex education or schools distributing condoms can also help.

Figure 1:

(Locker, S. (2008). Factors that influence teen decisions about sex. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from
Figure 1 shows the common influences for teen’s decision to have sex.


What can schools do to help decrease teen pregnancies?

     Schools can contribute to reducing teen pregnancies by distributing condoms at public schools and offer sex education at high schools. However at this moment, this is the most heated topic at public schools is the distribution of condoms at high schools. Many disagree with the idea of distributing condoms at schools mainly because people see it as an encouragement to have sex. However, it can benefit teens to fight against pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.  According to Douglas Kirby (2000), U.S. Representative Tom Coburn claimed that the distribution of condoms conflicted with common sense and did not lead to lower rates of either pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases. Erika Huerta, a teen mother, was interviewed about what she thought on providing condoms at schools:

    Schools should provide condoms at school because not only does it promote safe sex it also gives teens a chance to decide whether or not to engage in such activity, but it doesn’t prompt teens to have sex but let teens know there are people out there who care about them. (Erika Huerta, personal communication, February 26, 2010)

As Huerta explained, many others also felt that distributing condoms at school show that schools care about their student’s safety and are trying to make an effort to help them.

            Schools have the choice on whether to provide access to contraceptives and provide sex education to students in high schools. Although, studies have shown that if schools included education on sex and pregnancy prevention as part a health education curriculum it can indeed delay sexual activity among teens and increase safe sex (Parnes, 2010). Teens just need self motivation to avoid sex or practice safe sex. Informing teens by offering sex education and information on contraceptives can provide a broader perspective for each individual. Although, religion or moral reasons cause many people to strongly oppose making condoms available in schools and on sex education (Kirby, 2000). However, if the United States provided high schools with sex education classes can it influence teens to avoid sex and decrease pregnancies?

How effective is comprehensive sex education?

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Comprehensive sex education can for the most part be considered to people as having no effect on teens to avoid sex, but others can see it has a way to decrease teen pregnancies in America. According to Advocates for Youth (2009), comprehensive sex education programs helped youth “delay onset of sexual activity, reduce the frequency of sexual activity, reduce number of sexual partners, and increase condom and contraceptive use.” Organizations such as Advocates for Youth encourage others to spread the message that comprehensive sex education programs are effective. Schools may consider taking a more approach to comprehensive sex education programs for high school, but it also depends on each community schools come from. Researchers who also studied the impact of sex education on teens said that they found that teens that take comprehensive sex education reduced having unproductive sex by 60 % (Advocates for Youth, 2009). However, many disagree with the idea of comprehensive sex education being effective.

            Many have said that sex education will send confusing messages to teens and lack common sense. According to Christine Kim (2010), comprehensive sex education programs have had no effect on teen sexual behavior and these programs caused no reduction on teen pregnancies or the increase of contraceptives. If comprehensive sex education failed to do reduce teen sex then the effect of teen pregnancy would see no results or maybe an increase on teen pregnancies in the United States. Although without proper information about sex to teens, the United States might see no effect also on teen pregnancies. With different perspectives on comprehensive sex education, it will depend on the United States or even schools if they wish to decrease the increase on teen pregnancies through comprehensive sex education.



In conclusion, the United States is steadily seeing an increase rise on teen pregnancy without any precautions being taken on this matter. With different perspectives on teen pregnancy and how it should be dealt with, teens need to be informed about teen pregnancy and sex. Schools must act now in providing education on sex to high school students and distribute condoms to delay the sexual activity at a young age. Teens may suffer in the future if the United States continues to delay in dealing with the increase rise on teen pregnancies.


Advocate for Youth. (2009). Comprehensive sex education: research and results. Retrieved February 27, 2010, from

Alvarez, M. (2010, January 26). Incredibly disappointing: u.s. teen pregnancy rates on the rise. Message posted to

Bowers, C. (2009). Teen pregnancies increasing. Retrieved February 27, 2010, from

Kim, C. (2010, February 1). Abstinence Education Effective in Reducing Teen Sex, Comprehensive Sex Ed Not. Message posted to

Kirby, D. (2000). Making condoms available in schools. Western Journal of Medicine, 172(3), Retrieved March 1, 2010, from

Parnes, R. (2010). Condom availability in high schools not linked to increased sexual activity. Retrieved from

Pregnant Teen Help. (2005). Teen pregnancy prevention. Retrieved February 27, 2010, from