A new report published by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) has found that lifestyle factors, including focus on time with family and low-levels of alcohol consumption, may have influenced the sharp decline in teenage pregnancy rates. Aspirations and a focus on educational attainment were also identified as factors influencing the decline.
Qualitative and quantitative research conducted by YouGov and bpas (four online focus groups and a demographically weighted survey of 1,004 16-18 year olds) examined key trends in teenage lifestyles and outlook, as well as young people’s experience of Sex and Relatiionships Education (SRE) and use of contraception, which may be contributing to the record low conception rate among this age group.
Teenage pregnancy rates have fallen by 55% in the last decade to their lowest ever level. A new report by bpas, Social media, SRE and Sensible Drinking: Understanding the dramatic decline in teenage pregnancy, explores the factors which may have contributed to this marked drop.
This generation appears family-oriented and are more likely to place high value on time with their family than their friends, which may impact upon opportunities for sexual relationships.
They drink significantly less alcohol and see excessive alcohol consumption as a dangerous activity that puts them at risk of unwanted incidents. A significant minority (24%) report that they never drink alcohol, and of those who did drink, most did so at relatively low levels, with more than one quarter (28%) consuming 1-2 units on a typical occasion, and half (50%) consuming 1-4 units. Teenagers who consumed alcohol at lower levels were less likely to have engaged in sexual activity, suggesting changing drinking behaviours may have contributed to the decline in conceptions.
Getting good grades or succeeding in their chosen career was the top priority for the young people surveyed, with 82% of respondents stating this was of high importance, compared to 68% who felt that spending time with their friends was of high importance. Teenage pregnancy was viewed as disruptive to their academic and career plans, and survey respondents felt overwhelmingly negative about becoming a parent at their age because of the impact it could have on their life prospects, and on their ability to care for a child. It was also felt teenage pregnancy was highly stigmatised. This does also have the consequence of stigma attached to teenagers who do become pregnant. With fewer teenagers becoming pregnant there is need for more support for individuals and families to tackle stigmatisation and to ensure more support is provided to people as there is naturally greater isolation from society if teenage peers feel they do not want to interact of engage with people who are pregnant in their teens.