Statistics re: Teen Pregnancy and Virginity

Our local paper ran a column which included the following statistics:

40% of girls become pregnant at some time in their teens. (It didn’t specify, but I assume the range is 13-19).

90+% of parents surveyed said their teenagers were virgins (cite was “a pediatric study”).

Does anyone have a reliable cite for either of these figures?

I don’t have an answer to your request for cites, but I would certainly question the reliability of the parents information regarding their kids virginity.

It comes from a survey by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

I’d have thought that was the whole point of the survey - to demonstrate that many parents are oblivious to reality

Yes, that was the point of putting the 2 statistics side by side, to point out the disconnect between what parents thought and reality.

The reason I want to look closer for cites is b/c the 40% pregnancy rate seems high to me. I admit I’m no expert, but would be interested to see what research backs that up. And the parent survey data seemed to be based on one study, always a dubious sign. With all the professors and grad students in all the world, you’d think there’d be more than one study on the topic.

Exapno Mapcase, I read your link and the further link to the CDC study pdf. I didn’t find anything on pregnancy or parental surveys, though. It seemed to be people self-reporting their behavior.

All this shows me is that at least 30% of teenage girls get IVF without letting their parents know.

A person that cites a random percentage or several random percentages as the base of their argument is lying or at least does not know what they are talking about (at least 90% of the time).

The numbers I can find for Missouri suggest that 4%-6% of teenagers give birth in a given year. However, that’s just the stat for those who carry the pregnancy to completion. I don’t have any numbers for pregnancies that are terminated either by abortion or miscarriage.

If you think that 85-90% of teenage pregnancies end before a child is born, then a 40% rate is probably in the ballpark.

kounilou, thanks! I don’t think it would even need to be that high of a rate for miscarriage and abortion. If you count the 5% average over 7 years (13-19) that would be 35%. There would be some repeat pregnancies by the same teen mother, of course, but your birth rate figures could easily account for a 40% cumulative pregnancy before age 20 with considerably lower rates of terminated pregnancies.

Also keep in mind that if you define “teen” as anyone under 20, a goodly number of those *might * be 18 or 19 year old women, quite possibly married or in another intended-to-be-long-term relationship. People read “teenager” and think it’s a typical junior high school girl. Heck, I was married at 18 and could have been a teenaged mother.

Obviously, the pregnancy stats are only about girls. The parental interviews were presumably about both sexes.

We also don’t know the dates of the surveys, the population polled, the method of polling, or the exact wording of the question(s).

It’s good to ask questions about statistics.

Even if both statistics are true, it does not necessarily imply a parental disconnect. For instance, suppose that all girls stay virgins until they’re 19 years and a couple of months old, and then they all start rutting like rabbits. Most teenagers would then be virgins (since most teenagers are less than 19 years old), but at the same time, most girls would become pregnant at some time in their teens (specifically, a time very late in their teens). Of course, this is an exaggerated case for purposes of illustration, but the two statistics are not referencing the same question.

I don’t know how you can think your daughter is a virgin when she’s pregnant. And where are all these pregnant girls? Are they all getting abortions?

This is really bad science, and strictly WAG, but according to this site

there were 146,000 abortions on women age 15-19 in 1993.

According to this site

There were 500,000 births in the same age group in 1995.

(Let’s assume the population of girls in that age group held steady). That gives us 646,000 15-19 girls who either bore a child or had an abortion.

And according to this site

There were 9.8 million 15-19 girls in the year 2000.

Again, I’m mixing years up, but if the populations were steady, that means about 6.6% of girls became pregnant in a single year (that’s not including pregnancies ended by miscarriage, which has to add something to the number.) Statistically speaking 40% over a 7-year time span isn’t out of the question, although it’s highly likely an individual girl may have multiple pregnancies.

The National Center for Health Statistics released a new study this week. Most of the highlights concern homosexual and oral sex behaviour, but there’s gotta be something on teen pregnancy.

I can tell you that about 1 million Americans get abortions each year.

I definitely call bullshit on the 40% figure.

Aside from


The median age for losing virginity is 15-18 (depending on ethnicity). Which means that in order for a 40% statistic to be true, it would mean that nearly everyone who is having sex in their teens gets pregnant when they’re in their teens, or at the very least is getting pregnant after they turn 18 (most people agree 18-year-olds getting pregnant is very different from 17-year-olds getting pregnant).

I tried to do a little research on where the 40% number might have come from. This site references: