Two things: less sex, more protection.
According to the Daily News, that’s the word coming from the New York City Health Department to explain a serious downward trend. In new data released yesterday, the City’s youth has undergone a 27 percent drop in pregnancies over the last ten years.
The results have led Health Commissioner Tom Farley to point to his Department’s efforts to provide more access to contraceptives (like condoms, Plan B and birth control) in schools – a move that hasn’t exactly gone over well with some parents. However, his reasoning is not that more contraceptives directly caused less pregnancies; it’s just the impression they give off to students:
“It shows that when you make condoms and contraception available to teens, they don’t increase their likelihood of being sexually active. But they get the message that sex is risky,” Mr. Farley said. This might explain why sexual activity in high schools has dropped by a quarter as well.
However, not all the statistics provided are reasons to celebrate.
Basically, the overall survey here is the clear drop in teen pregnancies: in 2001, there were 24,815 pregnancies; in 2011, that number was 19,080. Still, those figures are higher than the national average and those numbers do not split that evenly among borough and race lines.
The Bronx still has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country – a claim that has been driven with less access to contraceptives due to an overall higher poverty rate. And, from those stats yesterday, the disparity between African-American and Caucasian girls is blatant. Out of 1000 African-American girls in New York City, 110.7 girls reported pregnancies; for Caucasian girls, that same ratio was 16 out of a 100.
So, while 27 percent is surely a success for the Department of Health, it’s safe to say that there’s still room for more focus.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 4, 2013