Friday, September 18, 2009

Teen Pregnancies are High in the Bible Belt

U.S. states whose residents have more conservative religious beliefs on average tend to have higher rates of teenagers giving birth, a new study suggests.

The relationship could be due to the fact that communities with such religious beliefs (a literal interpretation of the Bible, for instance) may frown upon contraception, researchers say. If that same culture isn't successfully discouraging teen sex, the pregnancy and birth rates rise.

Mississippi topped the list for conservative religious beliefs and teen birth rates, according to the study results, which will be detailed in a forthcoming issue of the journal Reproductive Health.

However, the results don't say anything about cause and effect, though study researcher Joseph Strayhorn of Drexel University College of Medicine and University of Pittsburgh offers a speculation of the most probable explanation: "We conjecture that religious communities in the U.S. are more successful in discouraging the use of contraception among their teenagers than they are in discouraging sexual intercourse itself."


This study doesn't surprise me at all. The results don't say anything about cause and effect, but I think I'll go ahead and say that strict religious beliefs usually yield extreme results. Most of the young ladies I know who grew up in conservative religious homes are pretty damn promiscuous. As soon as they set foot on a college campus, they couldn't wait to do the Couch Conoodle with any cute guy they met. The women who didn't turn into super freaks seem to have trouble being intimate and sustaining relationships with men.

I'm not saying that abstinence education doesn't have any redeeming value. I just think it should be accompanied with instruction of how to access and use contraception. Teaching young people what is needed to have safe sex doesn't encourage them to have it. It should encourage them to protect themselves if they decide to engage in sexual activity. We live in an oversexualized society and young people seem to be having sex at increasingly early age. Truth be told, I wouldn't want anyone to have sex before he or she is mentally, emotionally, and physically capable of handling the experience. I know that won't happen, so I implore everyone I know to protect themselves.

South Carolina (with the 13th highest teenage pregnancy rate) and North Carolina (with the 14th highest rate) should heed my words. The last thing the Carolinas need is more young women like Brenda, who is the subject of the Tupac song below.

I hear Brenda's got a baby
But Brenda's barely got a brain
A damn shame
The girl can hardly spell her name