Originally Answered: Adolescent: Not trying to offend anyone, but how come the teen pregnancy rate is still high when.?
As others have pointed out, teen pregnancy rates overall are down quite drastically. Nonetheless, among developed nations, we still have a very high teen pregnancy comparatively. In addition to contraceptive failure (and the far more common occurrence, human error and incorrect use of contraceptives), far too many teenagers do not use contraception, which is often the result of a mix of factors:
1) Ignorance. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 41% of teenagers (regardless of the type of sexuality education they received) know little or nothing about condoms and 75% know little or nothing about oral contraception. One in three teenagers claims to have never had any formal education on birth control, suggesting that even those not necessarily enrolled in abstinence only programs are still unable to access critical sexual health information. (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-Teen-S... )
2) Lack of access. "Conscience clause" laws protect pharmacists who feel it is immoral to provide birth control to teenagers, which means even if a girl gets a prescription for birth control, she may not be able to actually get that prescription filled: http://abcnews.go.com/WhatWouldYouDo/sto...
3) Fear or shame. For plenty of young people, if they are caught having contraception on them, it can mean punishment, disappointing their parents, or, in cases of abusive homes, risking injury and violence. Unfortunately, we live in a society where some folks are more likely to be lenient if someone comes to them saying "I'm sorry, I was trying to be abstinent, but we just got swept away and it happened!" as opposed to saying "I'm making the conscious choice to have premarital sex and take precautions to protect myself", but it's the truth. And that's just from one's elders- take a look at one's peers. Teenagers who carry condoms on their person are highly likely to be judged, as I write about here: http://cand86.tumblr.com/post/9320103791...
4) Pressure or coercion. Many teenagers lack the ability to confidently navigate and negotiate safe sex with their partners- girls may feel too shy to broach the subject, or if they do tentatively request that their partner use a condom, they may back down if he reacts negatively (i.e. some guys may shame her and tell her that it means she doesn't trust or really love him, or may imply that he will look for sex elsewhere if she won't give him the kind he wants). Considering the stereotype that condomless sex is more pleasurable, many guys may pressure their partners to not use condoms.
5) They want to get pregnant. Like it or not, some girls idealize teenage pregnancy and intentionally seek it out, or are okay with the possibility of it happening. Sometimes, if youth in a community have no opportunities awaiting them after graduation- if they do not have to look forward to college or a career, they may not see any reason to be particularly careful in avoiding pregnancy, not the way that middle and upper-class girls have a very compelling reason to not get pregnant. There are also girls who think that having a baby will make their partners stay with them, or will prove their love.
6) They took a risk. Young people are risk takers; this we know. Combine all the information above (particularly #3), and let's say you have two teenagers in the backseat of a car who find themselves wanting to go further, but without a condom- at this point in time, they're far more likely to say "It'll be okay." and go for it than to stop.
Hope that helps!