Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Teen Birth Rates Down, But is Every FL Teen Getting the Facts?

TALAHASSEE, FL – Teen birth rates in Florida and around the nation have dropped to historic lows, according to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures. In Florida, today's teen birth rate is less than half of what it was in 1993.

More teens are delaying sex and more are using contraceptives, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Paula Gianino, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, said she is encouraged by the numbers but notes that the trend doesn't apply in all areas.

"We see in both rural and urban areas of low socioeconomic status, high rates of teen pregnancy and teen childbirth," she said.

One way to keep teen pregnancy rates low is for parents to talk frankly to their children about sex, Gianino said. In families that use positive communication, she said, youths are more likely to make responsible and healthy choices.

Teens are inundated with sexual messages in the media and among friends, she said, although many in Florida do not get comprehensive and scientific information about sexuality and reproduction.

Teen Pregnancy - CDC
Advocates for Youth
Sex Ed - Honestly
• Planned Parenthood

"The majority of teens can graduate in this state without receiving any sexual-health education at all," she said, "Schools leave it out because they believe it's too 'controversial.' "

Florida schools are required by law to stress abstinence as part of sex education, which the state refers to as "life-management skills."

Many organizations in Florida and around the nation offer information to parents on how to speak to their children about sex. They stress that it should be more than a one-time talk, but rather ongoing and age-appropriate information on topics from how pregnancy occurs to how to treat other people with respect.

Gianino said she agreed that, in these discussions, parents need to take the lead.

"When we can increase communication in the home, teens feel more supported and they just do better," she said, "not only around sexual decision making but a whole host of other issues."

Nationwide, according to the CDC, teen birth rates dropped 6 percent in 2012, to 29 births per 1,000. The report found that teen birth rates varied by ethnicity, with the highest rate for Hispanic and African-American teens and the lowest rate for Asians.

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