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The Real Reason Teens Avoid Birth Control

Teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. are the lowest they've been in the 70 years since the government started keeping this data. And the rate just keeps falling—down 9 percent since the lowered rates in 2009-10. For every 1,000 girls between 15 and 19 years old, there are 34.3 teens who give birth each year.

While that's great news, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate is still higher than in other wealthy nations. A survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found a likely reason why: U.S. parents.

Chief program officer for the campaign, Bill Albert, said time and again his group found that teens report it's parents—not peers or partners or weird TV shows on TLC—that have the biggest influence on their decisions about sex. This includes their decision to not use birth control.

Nearly 70 percent of teens said in a recent survey about teens and sex that they agreed with the statement: The primary reason why they don't use birth control or protection is because they're afraid their parents will find out.

So all those talks, all the sharing of family values—the kids are listening. But because of issues with access to birth control and parental judgment (no matter how well-intended), teens are forgoing not sex, but birth control and other forms of protection against sexually transmitted infections.

Albert and other sex health experts say remind parents that "the talk" isn't just a one-time conversation—it's 18 years of body talk, education and developing openness around health, safety and decisions.

Kids care about what their parents think of them, the survey finds. Those who fear parental judgement for being sexually active aren't forgoing sex—they're forgoing safety.

Image via Twenty20/Islandika

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