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The Importance of Comprehensive Sexual Education in Preventing Teen Pregnancy

The teen birth rate has dropped by 75% percent since the 1990s (Kost et al.). This change is in large part due to the progress that has been made by increasing sex education and awareness about STI's, contraceptive use, and birth control. Sex education is important to combat unwanted teen pregnancy and to increase safe sex, and should be comprehensive and expansive, as it has many benefits in not only safe sex but creating well rounded humans. Comprehensive sex education has an incredibly important role in preventing teen pregnancy.

To begin, education on condom and contraceptive use is crucial. Though the teen birth rate has massively decreased in comparison to its peak, every year, about 600,000 teens in the US have unintended pregnancies (Szyldlowski). In addition, STI's are rampant among teens. 25% of all new HIV infections in the US are people aged 13-24 (Szyldlowski). Only 9% of sexually active high schoolers report that they used both a condom and birth control to prevent STI's and pregnancy (Torres). Sex education provides teens with the knowledge needed to protect themselves. Research shows that sex education leads to lower rates of STI's and unintended pregnancies (Desiderio). Comprehensive sex education that teaches teens about how to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections is crucial.

Some might say that teaching comprehensive sex education in schools would give kids ideas and encourage teen pregnancy, however this notion is incorrect. Data has found that teens who received comprehensive sex education were associated with a reduced risk of teen pregnancy (Szyldlowski). In fact, abstinence-only sex education is ineffective at its goal. Research shows that abstinence education does not cause abstinence behavior, and in fact abstinence-only states cause higher likelihoods of teen pregnancy (Stanger-Hall & W. Hall). In addition, abstinence-only programs are actually harmful to young people. By the end of high school, 57% of teenagers will have had sex, but abstinence-only education does not provide these teens with information like contraceptives, STI's, or consent to keep them safe (Guttmacher). Comprehensive sex education is much more beneficial and effective for the prevention of teen pregnancy.

To continue, sex education has many benefits. Sex education is proven to reduce teen birth rates. According to Nicholas Mark, in places where funding was given to comprehensive sex education, there was an overall reduction in the teen birth rate at the county level of more than 3 percent (Devitt). Not only does comprehensive sex education decrease STI's and unintended pregnancy, it also lowers the likelihood of homophobia and racism, builds skills in prevention of child sexual abuse, increases self esteem, reduces dating and intimate partner violence, and helps students become healthier, more successful adults (Desiderio, Planned Parenthood). Comprehensive sexual education helps prepare young people to be safe with their sexual health.

In summary, comprehensive sexual education is essential for preventing teen pregnancy. It helps to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections which have great impacts upon young people at risk. It is much better when it is expansive and comprehensive, unlike abstinence-only sex education which has adverse impacts on the prevention of teen pregnancy. It has many benefits in teaching teenagers to become successful adults. Overall, comprehensive sex education has an important role in preventing teen pregnancy, and it must be destigmatized and funded in order to benefit teens nationwide.


Desiderio, Gina. “Sex Education Is Essential (Sex Ed for All Talking Points).” Healthy Teen Network (blog), April 27, 2023.

Guttmacher Institute. “Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Programs: Harmful and Ineffective | Guttmacher Institute,” May 2021.

Devitt, James. “Federally Funded Sex Education Programs Linked to Decline in Teen Birth Rates, New Study Shows.” NYU, February 14, 2022.

Kost, Kathryn, Isaac Maddow-Zimet, and Alex Arpaia. “Pregnancies, Births and Abortions Among Adolescents and Young Women in the United States, 2013: National and State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity,” September 7, 2017.

Planned Parenthood. “Goals of Sex Education for Teenagers | Youth Health Services.” Accessed July 30, 2023.

Stanger-Hall, Kathrin F., and David W. Hall. “Abstinence-Only Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates: Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in the U.S.” PLOS ONE 6, no. 10 (October 14, 2011): e24658.

Szyldlowski, Mary Beth. “Sexual Health Education: Research and Results.” Advocates for Youth, July 2015.

Torres, Karen. “The Importance of Access to Comprehensive Sex Education.” American Academy of Pediatrics, July 14, 2023.


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