According to a report released this week, teen pregnancy is up for the first time in 16 years. Here’s the surprising part (not really): Experts believe the increase is the result of abstinence-only sex education in schools. I could have told you that.

Encouraging abstinence is fine, but kids are still going to have sex. They’re walking around all day like loaded weapons and they need some safety education, not denial and Puritanism.

Numbers Are Up Across the Board

Researchers at the Guttmacher Institute found that pregnancy and birth and abortion rates are on the rise in girls age 15 to 19, with seven percent of that age bracket becoming pregnant in 2006. Heather Boonstra, Guttmacher Institute's senior public policy associate, called the findings "deeply troubling" and said the data "coincides with an increase in rigid abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which received major funding boosts under the Bush administration."

"This just shows once again that the investment that was put into abstinence-only programs has not paid off. There's a strong body of evidence that these abstinence-only programs simply do not work: they don't help teens to either delay sex or increase contraceptive use when they do become sexually active.”

We don’t want our kids to drink, so we tell them not to drink. And yet (because we know they and their friends will probably drink) we tell them how dangerous it is to get into a car with a drunk friend. We tell them over and over to call us instead of driving drunk. We look out for their safety because we know no matter what we ask of them, they’re going to experiment.

And that’s just alcohol. How much more exciting is sex?

Pregnancy Up, Birth Control Down

Teen pregnancy is up, so guess what’s down? Throughout the 1990s the U.S. enjoyed a sharp decrease in the pregnancy rate. Boonstra credits a small proportion of this drop to lower sexual activity among U.S. teens, but the majority of the decrease to higher use of contraceptives during that time period.

However, by the early 2000s, contraceptive use among U.S. teens dropped. Boontra says, "Certainly that is connected to this increase in teen pregnancy."

It’s time we started respecting our teens and their choices. I’m for giving them all the information and resources they need to keep them STD-free, and childless for as long as we can. How about you?