The South discovered that teaching people is important and started with sex education, which lowered the national birth rate.
As 2019 begins to roar its head, statisticians look to last year. Their focus this time: the birth rate. That’s right — everyone and their brother is concerned about how many kiddos a woman is popping out, and this year, continuing the trend of the mid-2010s, it has decreased. The national average for babies per woman has fallen to 1.77 babies from 1.82 in 2016 and 1.84 in 2015.
There are many theories as to why this decline has occurred, from the sluggish economy (it’s always the economy, stupid!) to a focus on education over procreation for our younger generations (studying leaves no time for fun times?) to a general belief that millennials should be blamed for everything, regardless of reason.
After a (sort of?) thorough investigation of possible causes, one came out on top: the South finally learned that condoms were a thing and maybe … that’s something that should be taught in schools? I know this might be a surprise to some, but there’s this new type of sex education that not only teaches students what sex is (hint: you can’t get pregnant from public toilet seats or holding hands) but also explains various forms of protection (who knew throwing condoms at kids is both a ton of fun and actually useful?).
Personally, this whole line of research was new to me. I grew up in Arkansas, and my brushes with sex education were few and far between. I’m pretty sure in my seventh-grade health class, we had a two week unit on sex-ed, but I’m not entirely positive. I actually got out of health in high school, taking a BYU (the Mormon school, a faith very well-known for their progressive views on sex before marriage) health class that showed (female) anatomy but never even considered sex as something that existed besides discussing abstinence. Imagine my surprise when my younger sister told me she learned about birth control(!) and contraceptives in her health class. She actually had to explain some of the stuff she was learning because I had never heard of it before (still confused about IUDs, honestly).
After some intense digging, I found that a bunch of states realized their birth rates were getting close to Mississippi’s (thank God for Mississippi!). The states decided that they had to figure out how to lower it because they were fine with 48th or 49th, but God help them if they would ever be dead last.
Looking to their Northern states with lower birth rates (New York and Rhode Island, specifically), they determined that there was this weird thing called “sex-ed with contraceptives education” and that it lowered the birth rate. One thing led to another, and after a few brawls and a lot of beer, it was decided that maybe this whole abstinence-only thing wasn’t quite working — and here we are! By some sort of magic (or condoms?), the birth rate is lower and people everywhere know that contraceptives actually are a thing.