This is a teen-written article from our friends at Youth Communication, a nonprofit organization that helps marginalized youth develop their full potential through reading and writing. Names have been changed.
By Mitzi Sanchez
A new report came out this month showing that teen pregnancy rates are the lowest they've been in 30 years -- but those numbers don't reflect the reality at my school. Even though my friends all know about contraceptives and have access to condoms, I've had several friends get pregnant in the last year.
In class one day, my friend Karen was sitting next to me. She glanced around the classroom and nervously asked, "Mitzi, do I look pale?"
"Yes you do, are you OK?" I responded. Her hands were shaking and I was pretty sure she was sick.
"I'm pregnant," Karen said in a scared voice, as if she wished it were just a dream.
"What? Are you serious?"I was stunned. She sighed and told me that basically every time she'd had sex with her boyfriend, they never used contraception, not even a condom. It was weird because she always said she didn't want a baby any time soon.
Letting It Happen
According to the Guttmacher Institute, which studies unplanned pregnancy, "a sexually active teen who does not use contraception has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within a year." Somehow, with many teens, this fact doesn't seem to sink in. I've heard a lot of people say that using a condom while having sex gives them less pleasure, or just feels uncomfortable. They don't see that there's a disconnect between wanting to have sex without using contraceptives and not wanting to get pregnant -- until it's too late.
Even though many people don't do anything to avoid pregnancy, not everyone is ready or willing to have a baby. I think that's why abortion rates are so high in my area. Although the abortion rate has declined overall, it's still very high in New York City, where at least two out of every five pregnancies ended in abortion in 2009. That's a full 41% of pregnancies ending in abortion! (Although most of the women getting abortions were women in their 20s, not teens.)
Some people wonder if adolescents just don't have the information they need to prevent pregnancy. But, at least with my friends, that's not the issue. It's amazing how much information we get about safe sex in school, from brochures to sexual health workshops. We're even offered free condoms.
Another possibility is that some people secretly desire a baby, even though they know rationally that it's a bad idea. YCteen anonymously asked five sexually active teens about their feelings on unplanned pregnancy to see what they thought.