Yeah, the Kids are Alright

We hear constantly from the Christian right that the country went to hell when we “took God out of schools.” Teen pregnancy exploded, they say. Well guess what? The opposite happened. We have the lowest rate of teen pregnancy and teen abortion in decades right now.

The Centers for Disease Control released a monster report last week on the state of Americans’ health. The 511-page report makes one thing abundantly clear: teens are behaving better right now than pretty much any other time since the federal government began collecting data.

The teen birth rate is at an all-time low.

The teen birth rate has plummeted in recent decades. Separate data shows this has coincided with dramatic drops in the teen abortion rates.

The teen birth rate in 1960 was 89.1 per 1000 people; it’s now 29.4 per 1000. That’s a massive 2/3 drop. And use of contraception has gone up as well, which might just have something to do with it. Oh, and they’re also drinking, smoking and taking drugs at significantly lower rates as well:

teendruguse

They’re also far less bigoted, especially against LGBT people. So as much as I like joking about those damn kids these days, the kids are alright.

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  • colnago80

    Hey, it should be clear to anyone watching that the minds (such as they are) of the fuckken born agains are made up, the facts are irrelevant.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    Obviously, this report is a lie by the Obama administration to continue the drive to destroy America. Where is the brave pollster who can unskew it to show the truth!

    Oh, and they’re also drinking, smoking and taking drugs at significantly lower rates as well:

    Except for that well-known gateway drug, Mary-jew-Anna. Soon (possibly even before Jayzus returns), we’ll see a big increase in drug use. Just give it time. Remember, Reefer Madness was a documentary; they couldn’t have released it if it wasn’t true!

  • laurentweppe

    Wait: Alcohol and Tobacco are among illicit substances?

    Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahaha

    Haaa, the US and its silly rules that posit that you can go oversea and partake in an illegal invasion and its procession of misery, war crimes, plunder and ethnic cleansings but heaven forbids you from having a beer.

  • sugarfrosted

    @3 For people under 18 they are. Don’t know why that’s funny.

  • thebookofdave

    Since kicking God out of our schools, the teen birth rate skyrocketed from 89.1 per mille to a staggering 29,400 per million! In other news, God lifts his hand of protection to my understanding of how numbers work. If only I had heeded Romans Ch.1, I would have been better prepared to blame somebody else for the awful results!

  • bjarndoolaeghe

    @4: For people from countries where the legal drinking age is 16, and nobody really cares about it? Whereas the legal limit for driving a car is 18? Yeah we do actually find the US version a bit hilarious.

  • Curt Cameron

    The Christian right would probably say that the high teen pregnancy rate in 1960 was not a problem, because those 89.1 teenage girls were properly married!

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    The teen birth rate in 1960 was 89.1 per 1000 people…

    Wrong. Everybody knows that the kids in my day weren’t doing what the kids these days doing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597316935 ashleybell

    I know there’s some confirmation bias on my part, but I was up in NYC a couple weeks back and spent some beautiful-day-time in Washington Square, the ‘cultural hub’ for NYU. I was actually a little DISAPPOINTED to notice how much more students these days have their shit together than me and my contemps did back in the day. (I kid about disappoint). but I’m thinking that as annoying as the new social media is, those who have grown up on it seem to have created a kind of saftey network of a sort…Alot of the debilitating lonliness that our generation grew up with is somewhat ameliorated…And your freinds don’t have to be in the same state or even the same country as you. The connections may be more ‘superficial’ but I’m guesing the reveal here will be that volume is at least as important as depth…It’s too early to tell. butIn 20 years or so I’m looking forward to seeing the studies done on it

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597316935 ashleybell

    And for the christian right, rule number one is: Everthing is bad and everthing is ALWAYS getting worse, no exeptions. goddamn what a sad wasted life these folks have…

  • wscott

    The teen birth rate in 1960 was 89.1 per 1000 people; it’s now 29.4 per 1000.

    Minor quibble: this isn’t the most honest way to frame the data, since the 60s was when teen birth rates hit all time highs. If you look at the 40s, before rates really started climbing, the rate was closer to 50 per 1000 – today’s numbers are still a significant improvement, but not quite as dramatic as if you only look back to the 60s. Looking at the 40s makes a more compelling argument anyway, since to most conservatives the 50s were the Golden Age on morality, patriotism and simplicity, and 1960 was when everything went to hell with the long hair and that rock music the kids were listening to…

  • eric

    I’m thinking that as annoying as the new social media is, those who have grown up on it seem to have created a kind of saftey network of a sort…Alot of the debilitating lonliness that our generation grew up with is somewhat ameliorated.

    I was actually thinking of the more cynical flip side of your answer: they probably spend less time drinking and screwing around with face-to-face human beings because they spend more time playing xbox. Turn off the internet connection(s) for a month, and I bet that teen pregnancy rate goes right back up. However, that is probably an extremely unfair generalization. I mention it here as my own personal “first impression” bias, not as somethnig that the more rational-and-deliberate-me actually believes. I would not be surprised at all if today’s teens were also physically more fit and healthy than their ’60s or ’70s counterparts.

  • jameshanley

    As a college teacher who gets these kids right out of high school, I’ve been saying for a few years now that today’s kids are all right. Sure, they don’t read before class (but did they ever?) and struggle to write well, but they’re good kids overall. I like working with them, despite getting old enough to start yelling at them to get off my lawn.

  • steve84

    Compared to other countries, it’s still very high though. So is the rate of STDs.

  • pixiedust

    Possibly uncorrelated but theism among teens today is also way down.

  • John Pieret

    Teen pregnancy exploded, they say.

    Maybe they are just thinking about their own kids. After all, teen pregnancy rates are highest in states deemed “religiously conservative,” with Mississippi leading the way!

  • Ichthyic

    I actually attribute the lower drug use statistics to be more reflective of the fact that more people are just too broke to afford recreational drug use any more.

  • Ichthyic

    Minor quibble: this isn’t the most honest way to frame the data, since the 60s was when teen birth rates hit all time highs. If you look at the 40s

    the 40s… now wait.. I know there was something significant going on around that time… what was it again?

    your quibble is not just minor, it’s inane.

  • Ichthyic

    Wait: Alcohol and Tobacco are among illicit substances?

    for people under the age of 18 in most states, yeah, they are.

    21 for most states regarding alcohol.

    you don’t think it’s a good idea to at least try and limit teen alcohol consumption?

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    They’re also far less bigoted, especially against LGBT people. So as much as I like joking about those damn kids these days, the kids are alright.

    Hell yes. Seconded and quoted for truth.

    The ultra-right wingers, the conservative christians have already lost on many (almost all fronts) they’re just in denial and refusing to accept the facts. As per their tradition.

  • http://noadi.etsy.com Noadi

    Anyone else find that pot is now more popular with teens than tobacco rather interesting?

  • edmundog

    Additionally, starting in 1960 makes sense if we’re checking the effect of school-led prayer, as it was banned by the courts in 1963.

  • eric

    you don’t think it’s a good idea to at least try and limit teen alcohol consumption?

    AFAIK, the more liberal European approach does not in general appear to cause any more alcohol abuse in teens (deaths related to it, etc…) than the more restrictive US approach. European teens probably drink more, but not necessarily so much more that it causes statistical upticks in teen deaths or car accidents etc. However, I suspect that if we tried to switch from one to the other, there would be a big “hump” of bad effects for a generation. The current US policy works reasonably well, the European policy also works reasonably well, but I worry that the transistion from one to the other could be painful.

  • freehand

    laurentweppe – How can the oligarchs of your country (1) stomp their boots on the necks of your peasants? Since you seem to value morality more than a profitable enterprise (not that you’d ever see the profit yourself)…

    .

    No, really, the US culture is permeated with a Puritan moral code [sic] best expressed by our Christian Fundamentalists. For them (2) morality is a list of arbitrary rules, not how you would behave with other people.(3) So all immorality is really just disobedience to, or disrespect for, their imaginary king. Hence they see gay sex to be as immoral as rape. Both forbidden. Yes, this is creepy. I was raised by them and I find it very disturbing.

    .

    1. France?

    2. 20% or so

    3. What kind of teacher would advocate that you treat other people the way the way you would want to be treated?

  • wscott

    @ Ichthyic 18: The 40s is as far back as the data went back in the set I looked at. If you want to parse the data to start in 1945 after the war ended, or in 1950 to make it a round number, knock yourself out. Either way you look at the data, 1960 is the outlier, not 1940.

    @ Edmundog 22: OK, that’s a fair point. I still thing a more accurate (and more convincing) picture would be to start before the variable (removing official school prayer) was introduced, show that teen pregnancy was on the rise before then and went into decline afterwards.

  • wscott

    The reason I think it’s a more convincing argument is that when you say “things are better now than they were in the 60s,” what many conservatives hear is “things are better now than they were at THE WORST TIME IN HUMAN HISTORY.” But when you use the 40s or 50s, now you’re comparing things to The Golden Age Of Human History, which feels (to conservatives) like a much higher bar.

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