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news release

Rebecca Wind

For Immediate Release: Friday, April 30, 2004


Despite ongoing debates about sex education in the United States, the importance of parents' involvement in their children’s sex education is undisputed. Yet many parents are themselves misinformed about how to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), according to "Parents’ Beliefs About Condoms and Oral Contraceptives: Are They Medically Accurate?" by Marla E. Eisenberg of the National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Research Center et al.

The authors report that fewer than half of parents in a recent survey believed that correct, consistent use of condoms is highly effective for preventing pregnancy and STDs. Parents also underestimate the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. Only half of parents surveyed considered the pill highly effective. Yet studies have shown that condoms are 98-100% effective at preventing HIV/AIDS and substantially decrease the risk of infection with other STDs; and medical evidence has shown repeatedly that the pill and the condom prevent 99.9% and 97% of pregnancies, respectively.

In addition, the majority of parents surveyed believe that most teenagers cannot use condoms or the pill correctly. Research has shown, however, that teenagers can use contraceptives as well as older adults can. Greater proportions of men than women surveyed believed that condoms were effective for pregnancy prevention (47% vs. 37%) and that teenagers are capable of using them correctly (33% vs. 23%), while a higher proportion of women than men believed that the pill prevents pregnancy almost all the time (55% vs. 44%).

"Parents’ Beliefs About Condoms and Oral Contraceptives: Are They Medically Accurate?" is published in the March/April issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. The authors surveyed more than 1,000 parents of 13-17-year-olds in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2002.

May 5th, 2004, is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, when teens around the country are asked to stop, think and take action to prevent pregnancy. Despite continuing declines in the U.S. teenage pregnancy rate--it is at its lowest level in 30 years--there are still more than 800,000 teenage pregnancies each year in the United States, about 80% of which are unintended. Both teenagers and their parents need more education and better information to ensure that young people are prepared to become sexually healthy adults--and eventually to teach their own children how to protect themselves.

For national teenage pregnancy statistics, click here

For state-by-state teenage pregnancy data, click

To learn about what U.S. teenagers are actually learning in school about sexual and reproductive health, click here

Click here for more information about the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Also in the March/April issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health:

"Attitudes and Intentions of Future Health Care Providers Toward Abortion Provision," by Solmaz Shotorbani et al.;

"Acceptability of the Vaginal Diaphragm Among Current Users," by Julie E. Maher et al.;

"U.S. Insurance Coverage of Contraceptives and the Impact of Contraceptive Coverage Mandates, 2002," by Adam Sonfield et al.; and

"The HIPAA Privacy Rule and Adolescents: Legal Questions and Clinical Challenges," by Abigail English and Carol A. Ford.

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