There's been a difference of opinion about why the teen pregnancy rate has fallen ["Annual rise in birthrate a reason for optimism," Editorial, June 2]. We believe that early sex education is essential.
A study published by the Guttmacher Institute found that teen pregnancy and birthrates are at historic lows. In fact, the teen birthrate has declined a whopping 51 percent in the United States since peaking in the early 1990s, and in 2010 reached its lowest level in more than 30 years.
On Long Island we are seeing incredible progress. Indeed, in Roosevelt, Hempstead and Westbury -- where Planned Parenthood, through the Department of Health's Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, provides evidenced-based sex education programs -- teen pregnancy rates have dropped dramatically: 58 percent, 22 percent and 21 percent, respectively.
The Guttmacher study confirms that comprehensive sex education helps young people delay sex and increases the use of contraception and condoms when they do become sexually active.
Unfortunately, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than 80 percent of teens ages 15 to 17 have had no formal sex education before having sex for the first time. Teen pregnancy needs to be part of an ongoing conversation.
Young people need access to accurate information and resources to make responsible decisions.
Editor's note: The writers are the director of education and training for Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, and vice president of public affairs and education for Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, respectively.