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The Teen Pregnancy Crisis is Worse Than You Think

Here’s the good news: the teen pregnancy rate in the United States is declining.

Here’s the bad news: Even so, about one-third of American teenage girls have gotten pregnant. Let that sink in. One out of three. In fact, studies suggest about one teenager gets pregnant every minute in the U.S.

There is no shortage of theories about why this happens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found an alarming number of teenagers didn’t think they could get pregnant from having unprotected sex. In fact, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found 18 percent of men believed that having sex while standing up could help prevent pregnancy.

Believe it or not, despite the numbers, teen pregnancy rates have not only declined in the past 10 years—they’ve plummeted. In 1996, more than four in 10 teenage girls in the U.S. got pregnant at least once.

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Things are improving, but the problem is hugely disproportionate for teens of some ethnic groups. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that half of all African-American teen girls and 52 percent of Latina teens become pregnant before they turn 20.

Curiously, this is a uniquely American problem. America’s teenagers are getting pregnant at a rate about three times that of Spain, five times that of France and 15 times that of Switzerland. Whatever is happening, it is not a problem just with teenagers. It is a problem with the United States.

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