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Adolescent Sexual Activity

Abstinence is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and other associated health problems.

Sexual activity outside the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological effects: regret; worry about pregnancy, disease, future plans; guilt; loss of self-respect; feeling used or betrayed; and disinterest in other activities.

Bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child's parents and society.

Infants of teen mothers have a higher incidence of illness, low birth weight and infant mortality.

Adolescent pregnancy and child rearing have a significant impact on an adolescent's achievement of social and economic independence.

Children of teen mothers are at a greater risk of abuse and neglect and are more likely to drop out of school or become teen parents themselves.

The majority of sexually transmitted diseases occurs in people aged 15 to 29.

By age 21, approximately one out of every five young people has required treatment for a sexually transmitted disease.

Teen parenting is associated with the failure to complete high school and initiating a cycle of poverty for mothers. For example, less than 1/3 of teens who begin a family before age 18 every complete high school.

Adolescent pregnancy rates are decreasing in Tennessee but continue to be high. In 2003, a total of 4,345 girls aged 15-17 became pregnant.

Tennessee's adolescent pregnancy rate dropped from 21.1 per 1,000 girls aged 10-17 in 1996 to 13.9 in 2003. Lauderdale County had the highest rate of teen pregnancies at 25.6 followed by Shelby County at 20.8 and Hamblen and Hardeman Counties at 19.1.