Too busy texting? Revelation as teenage pregnancies down
It may be the bane of many parents’ lives – but new figures show texting could be keeping the number of teenage pregnancies down.
In 1998, the government said the pregnancy rate for mothers aged between 15 and 17 across the Black Country was 64 per 1,000.
But in the 12 months up to June 2017 the figure had fallen to 26 per 1,000 – a drop of nearly 60 per cent.
It was a similar situation in Staffordshire, where young pregnancy rates reached a record low of 20 per 1,000, a 53 per cent drop from the 1998 figure of 43 per 1,000.
According the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, cultural changes that have seen young people spend less time out boozing and more time forging relationships on social media have led to the dramatic fall seen in pregnancies.
There has also been a rise in texting and sexting when young people share explicit photos and messages.
Spokeswoman Katherine O’Brien said: “Under 18 conception rates have been falling dramatically, particularly over the last decade, and they currently stand at record lows.
“Improvements in contraception and better sex education undoubtedly play a role, however we believe some societal shifts are also important factors.
“This is a generation who focus on their academic work much more, they are less likely to go out binge drinking and get involved in activities which can lead to sex.
“They are spending more and more time socialising online, and less time in person with their partners.”
However, council bosses attribute the fall to improvements in education. In Walsall 112 women aged under-18 became pregnant in the 12 months to June 2017, a rate of 28 per 1,000.
The figure represents a dramatic fall from 67 per 1,000 for the borough.
Walsall Council leader Mike Bird said: “Social media may have a part to play but it is by no means the only reason for the fall in teenage pregnancies.”
In Wolverhampton, 112 women aged under-18 became pregnant in the 12 months to June 2017, a rate of 26 per 1,000.
However, the under-18 conception rate for the West Midlands is 21 per 1,000, still higher than the national rate which sits at a record low last year of 17 per 1,000.