Page-2 | Teen birth rates drop in U.S. but more work to do worldwide | Style | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.

newjerseynewsroom.com

Saturday
Oct 25th
  • Login
  • Create an account
    Registration
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    REGISTER_REQUIRED
  • Search
  • Local Business Deals

Teen birth rates drop in U.S. but more work to do worldwide

If the formula for lowering teen birth rates is education plus contraception, it needs to be supported worldwide. I came to this conclusion after a two-week trip to Israel and Jordan, where I observed firsthand the increasing family size among some populations groups.

While in the Middle East, I became aware of the rising population rates within two distinct groups: the ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel and the Palestinian Arab population in in the West Bank and in Jordan. Although both view having many children as an expression of their religious beliefs, and do not endorse artificial contraception, both groups seem, to this outsider, to be involved in a race to beat each other by out-populating the other.

In Israel, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish adults that I saw walking through Jerusalem were more often than not trailed by a lengthy line of children. Upon return, I found an article that reported that this community’s “fertility rate” is “hovering at more than three times that of other Israel Jews.” The experts quoted projected that by 2034, “about one in five Israelis will be ultra-Orthodox,” which means the population will continue to increase, putting stress on living conditions, scarce resources, and political decisions affecting some of the secular aspects of Israeli society.

I only have a personal story to back up my estimations of increasing population rates among Palestinian Arabs. When in Petra, Jordan, I stopped to look at a little table arrayed with jewelry and other trinkets for sale by a Palestinian Arab young woman. She wore a long, brown neck-to-toe robe and a headscarf and held an adorable, rosy-cheeked baby boy in her arms.

Perhaps the reporter in me prompted me to ask our guide to ask the smiling young woman the age of her baby and at what age she had married. Both her answers surprised me: She had married at age 13, and, now, at 19, had six children. Our guide told us that most young Bedouin Arab women marry early, have little education and marry young men who do not believe in using contraception.

Which brings me to Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In a recent speech in Berlin, she called for “universal access to birth control that women want in developed and developing countries.” Gates, who is Catholic, believes such access could save “hundreds of thousands of lives annually and that “one of the simplest and most transformational things we can do is give everybody access to birth control.”

Perhaps I am naïve to think that there are young women in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and other developing nations of the world who, like their U.S. counterparts, are connected by their desire for access to contraception, so they can plan their families and give their children better, stronger, and more secure lives. Before I left for my trip to the Middle East, I read that modern Orthodox high schools in Israel had instituted sex education for both boys and girls (who attend school separately). The journey of a thousand miles, goes an old Chinese proverb, does begin with a single step.

Education and contraception: perfect together.

It is a vision we can make a reality.

Susie Wilson, former executive coordinator of the Network for Family Life Education at Rutgers University's Center for Applied and Professional Psychology (now renamed Answer), is a national leader in the fight for effective sexuality and HIV/AIDS education and for prevention of adolescent pregnancy. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

ALSO BY SUSIE WILSON

Deborah Roffman's advice for parents talking to kids about sexuality: ‘Look through children’s eyes’

'Saving Face' war on women parallels new Texas abortion law

Kudos to Sandra Fluke, Zach Efron for contraception....and shame on Rush Limbaugh

Support for same-sex marriage in New Jersey reaches new high

Sex and lust in 'Downton Abbey' and 'Clinton' documentary

Sex in the news: Quanitta Underwood gets tip of the hat, Rick Santorum wag of the finger

Caroline Kennedy deserves sympathy in light of JFK intern affair

Top 10 best sexuality stories of 2011

'Who Has What?' by Robie H. Harris: A book on sexuality for children

Moral courage and the Penn State child sexual abuse case

The HPV vaccine and children: A grandmother's perspective

Princeton professor's arguments about NYC sex education are obsolete

Protecting African women from sexual violence

Dr. Ruth visits N.J.: 83 and still a sex educator

Standardized testing sex education: Could N.J. follow in D.C’s footsteps?



 

Add your comment

Your name:
Subject:
Comment:
Be one step ahead of financial criminals using fraud protection services.
Easily find affordable life insurance from New York Life to ensure your family is in good hands.

Follow/join us

Twitter: njnewsroom Linked In Group: 2483509