Consider: Boston’s annual high-school dropout rate is more than double the statewide average, and one big reason is teen parenthood. Pregnancy and dropping out put many teens on a tough-to-reverse trajectory toward long-term economic struggles. A teen mother is far less able to land a decent job and much more likely to end up on welfare.
Pregnancy isn’t the only problem associated with teenage sexual activity, of course. There’s also the problem of sexually transmitted disease and infection. The rate of chlamydia among Boston’s 15- to 19-year-olds, for example, has increased significantly over the last decade or so. Still, substantial percentages of sexually active Boston teenagers report that they don’t reliably use condoms.
Sex education curriculums are often characterized by opponents as programs that, by imparting sexual information and distributing contraceptives, simply encourage teenage sex. But actually, teens who have taken such a curriculum are more likely both to delay sexual activity and to use contraception correctly when they do have sex.