Teen birth rate down, but more education urged

3 News 21 January 2015
Access to good sex education shouldn’t be a “lottery” for Kiwi teens depending on where they go to school, a health expert says.
While a new study has found less Kiwi women are having babies while in their teens, New Zealand still has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancies in the developed world.
Research released yesterday by the Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (Superu) found that an average of one in nine Kiwi women – 11 percent – will give birth before they reach 20.
The study, based on 2013 data, found that teen births made up 5.9 percent of all births in New Zealand, the lowest percentage ever recorded.
Twenty-four percent of teens surveyed reported having sex, but only 60 percent of sexually active youths reported consistently using contraception.
Despite the lower rate, New Zealand still ranked second-highest in the OECD for teen birth rates, behind only the United States.
Teen birth rates were found to be declining in all regions of the country except Northland. Teenage births also declined among the Maori population.
Frances Bird, Family Planning’s director of health promotions, says if we hope to lower the rate further, more consistency is needed in educating teenagers.
“We know that some schools do a great job of it and others don’t do such a good job…It depends on where you go to school, about the quality of what you’re getting. Good comprehensive sexuality education makes a real difference,” says Ms Bird.
Ms Bird says access to good sex education shouldn’t be a “lottery”, and says there needs to be more training available for teachers.
“What we’d like to see is the commitment to the funding around teacher training and support.”
The Ministry of Education says it’s not just the school responsible teaching teens, but parents too must play their role in sex education.

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