Teenagers Given Condoms at School Likelier to Become Pregnant and Get STDs / STIs: 2016 Study
by MICHAEL J. NEW
June 17, 2016
A new study by a pair of Notre Dame economists received some media attention this week. It found that school districts that instituted condom distribution programs in the early 1990s saw significant increases in the teen-fertility rate [as well as an increase in sexually transmitted diseases].
This study fills an important gap in the existing research on contraceptive programs. There has been a considerable amount of academic research on Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) and oral contraceptives. However, there has been almost no academic research on high-school condom-distribution programs.
The study is very rigorous. The authors identified 22 school districts in twelve states that launched condom-distribution programs during the 1990s. Some of these school districts are among the largest in the country including New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Overall, the study analyzes teen-fertility data from 396 high-population counties over a span of 19 years.
A range of demographic and economic factors are held constant. It finds that if 100 percent of high-school students attended a school with a condom-distribution program, the teen-fertility rate would increase anywhere from 10 to 12 percent. Furthermore, this finding was fairly consistent across school districts with condom-distribution programs.
The researchers were unable to determine how exactly the condom-distribution program increased teen-fertility rates. There is a possibility that these programs reduced the usage of oral contraceptives which tend to be more reliable.
There is a possibility that after condom-distribution programs were instituted, there was less emphasis on programs encouraging teens to delay sexual activity.
Finally, there is a possibility that condom-distribution programs resulted in more teen sexual activity.
Interestingly, the study finds sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) increased in counties with condom-distribution programs.
A new study shows that providing free condoms to teenagers worsens the problem it purports to solve. The finding is unsurprising given that the programs are “propaganda for the Sexual Revolution,” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse says.
In an extensive (Link): working paper entitled “The Incidental Fertility Effects of School Condom Distribution Programs,” University of Notre Dame researchers Kasey Buckle and Daniel Hungerman chart the effectiveness of distributing condoms to young students in order to curb teen pregnancy and reduce rates of sexually transmitted diseases. Their results reveal that both teen pregnancy and STD rates increased with the presence of such condom distribution efforts.
As noted in a June 15 Vox (Link): article about the study, the push to make condoms more accessible in school districts was largely in response to the alarming AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s. Such a push appears to have backfired.
The Notre Dame researchers focused on school condom distribution programs, some of which required counseling of some kind and other programs that did not. For those programs that required no counseling, they found a 10% rise in teen births and a notable increase in gonorrhea in women, an additional 2.43 cases per 1,000 women.
Writing at National Review, scholar Dr. Michael New (Link): hailed the study as an addition to the “impressive body of research which shows that efforts to encourage contraceptive use either through mandates, subsidies, or distribution are ineffective at best or counterproductive at worst.”
– The Washington Times – Wednesday, June 22, 2016
A new study indicates that giving teenagers condoms increases their chance of becoming pregnant.
Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman, economists at the University of Notre Dame, tracked outcomes from 22 schools in 12 states that distributed condoms to their students during the 1990s.
Those schools had 10 to 12 percent higher-than-expected teenage fertility rates, even at a time when teen pregnancy was decreasing across the nation.
“Our work shows that, in fact, condom access — at least through school — did not play a role in the decline in teen fertility in the 1990s,” the researchers conclude.
Although they cannot point definitively to why increased condom availability led to a spike in teenage fertility, the authors provide some speculation.
Increased access to condoms, they said, may encourage risky sexual behavior and dilute an emphasis on abstinence.
…. The study also found an increased rate of sexually transmitted infections at schools with condom-distribution programs.
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