PIERRE - Teen pregnancy is on the decline nationally, but is still stubbornly high in rural areas. This should be cause for more concern in South Dakota, given that very little of state qualifies as being non-rural.

There is a vicious cycle associated with teen pregnancy that results in disproportionately high dependence on government funds for healthcare, housing, nutritional and income support. Basically, teens from low income households are much more likely to get pregnant, which seriously derails their education and career path, which means that they will likely form a low income household themselves perpetuating the cycle.

So why are rural areas and small town teens so at risk? Well, when you combine high incidence of poverty with a distinct lack of other things to do, teens tend to find ways to amuse themselves that often result in conception.

There is another factor involved as well. There is a concerted effort on the part of certain prominent elements of society to either ignore the problem and hope it goes away, or propose unhelpful “solutions”.

Most parents don’t want to think about their teenagers having sex and most sexually active teenagers are not in a rush to inform their parents about such goings on. Compound that with the disastrously ineffective policy of abstinence only “sex education”, and you have recipe for ignorance and unwanted pregnancy.

The reality is that in attempting to reduce teen pregnancies we are fighting against millions of years of evolution. There is only one method that has proven effective in this effort and it isn’t pushing your kids into sports, or prayer, or virginity pledges, or scaring away your daughter’s potential boyfriends; it is hormonal birth control.

Many people think that if teenage girls go on the pill that they will be encouraged to start having sex. The truth is that biology has already done all the encouraging necessary. All birth control does is make sure that when teenage girls do start, it isn’t already too late to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

As a society, we can keep pretending that something other than hormonal birth control is going to solve this problem, and keep wondering why the US tops the list of developed countries in terms of teen pregnancies year after year, or we can stop the willful ignorance surrounding this issue. After all, it is highly unlikely to result in bliss for anyone involved.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Gossom and do not reflect Results Radio, Townsquare Media, its sponsors or subsidiaries.