Teen pregnancy: fact vs. spin

The Associated Press:

Mississippi now has the nation’s highest teen birth rate, displacing Texas and New Mexico for that lamentable title, a new federal report says. . . .
The three states have large proportions of black and Hispanic teenagers — groups that traditionally have higher birth rates, experts noted.

Indeed, and if you take a little time to examine the actual CDC report, what you find is that the birth rate (births per 1,000) for females 15-19 breaks down like this:


Ergo, states where blacks and Hispanics constitute a large proportion of the 15-19 population will tend to have high rates of teen pregnancy. Furthermore, the category “Hispanic” encompasses many nationalities, with varying rates of teen pregnancy, so that for instance, those of Mexican origin have a teen birth rate of 92.9, while Puerto Ricans have a teen birth rate of 69.3.

A bit of Census research reveals that the population of Mississippi is 37.1% black and 1.8% Hispanic, whereas Texas is 11.9% black and 35.7% Hispanic, and New Mexico is 2.5% black and 44.0% Hispanic. By comparison, the state with the lowest teen birth rate, New Hampshire, is 95.8% white.

The obvious conclusion, then, is that demographics has a powerful influence on teen pregnancy. Ah, unless you’re a liberal fanatic:

While the new report does not explain why [Mississippi’s] teen pregnancy rate is increasing, one reason may be the poor quality of its sex ed programs. As the Sexuality Information and Education Center explains, Mississippi focuses heavily on abstinence education and teachers are prohibited from demonstrating how to use contraceptives . . .

Right. So what about Gov. Bill Richardson’s progressive paradise New Mexico, huh? The teen birth rate there is 64 per 1,000, compared to Mississippi’s 68 per 1,000. Why aren’t liberals excoriating New Mexico? (Crickets chirping.)

UPDATE: Linked at RCP Best of the Blogs.

UPDATE II: Linked at Nashville Post. BTW, I would like to point out that I personally don’t consider it a social tragedy every time a 19-year-old gets pregnant. Unwed pregnancy is more of a problem than teen pregnancy, per se. Maggie Gallagher did a must-read report on this subject 10 years ago. Also, see my post on Famous Teenage Mothers.

UPDATE III: To argue briefly with commenter Richard: Sex education is redundant, wasteful and intrusive. Are we really supposed to believe that the teenage girl who gets pregnant doesn’t know that sex causes pregnancy? We are living in a society where accurate information about sex has never been more widely available. Any 12-year-old can go to Borders (or the school library) and find a dozen or more books on the birds-and-bees stuff, to say nothing of what’s available on the Internet.

If teenagers are getting pregnant, ignorance cannot be the explanation, so what is it that schools need to educate them about? How to use a condom? Last time I looked, every box of condoms had illustrated instructions on proper usage. If you are too stupid to use a condom properly maybe . . . I don’t know . . . you shouldn’t be having sex. Yet our enlightened elites insist that anybody who wants schools to focus on telling kids they shouldn’t be having sex — “Hey Kids: Keep Your Britches On!” — is an irresponsible, anti-science Taliban fundamentalist.

Some people have an annoyingly tautological certainty about the importance of teaching kids the Latin names of their genitalia — vulva, clitoris, etc., being pretty much the only Latin taught in schools anymore — as if there were some intrinsic value in that knowledge. It’s like believing that, unless you teach kids the Latin names of their digestive organs, they won’t be able to eat properly. And yet, in all the debate over sex ed, nobody ever seems to notice the manifest absurdity of that premise.

The advocates of “compehensive sexuality education” (CSE) are not really concerned about addressing any meaningful deficit of useful knowledge. Rather, the CSE agenda is about inculcating a certain attitude toward sex, which is where we encounter the problem of intrusiveness. CSE advocates want to establish as Officially Approved Attitude about sex — a PC sexual dogma — and, if you actually take time to read their esoteric literature (as I have), they aren’t even secretive about this goal. It is very much about telling people what to think.

The whole point of the sex-ed agenda from Kinsey onward has been to eradicate “old-fashioned” (i.e., “Puritanical” or “Victorian”) attitudes toward sex, and they mean to accomplish this through the coercive action of government-imposed education. I am certainly no prudish Victorian, but my inner libertarian is profoundly hostile to schools propagandizing children in this fashion, especially since the schools go out of their way to deceive parents about the actual content and purpose of sex-ed.

UPDATE IV: Linked at American Power.

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