Monthly Archives: May 2010

Talk to your teens about sex

Emily Scribner-O'Pray
May is national Teen Pregnancy Prevention month and
May 5 is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Why is there a special month and day to recognize the importance of preventing teen pregnancy?

  • 3 in 10 girls in the U.S. will get pregnant before the age of 20
  • 1 in 6 girls in the U.S. will be a teen mom
  • The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world – twice as high as Canada or England, and eight times as high as the Netherlands or Japan

With these sobering statistics, who do you think teens say has the most sway when it comes to decisions about sex? Friends? The media? No. Teens say that parents most influence their decisions about sex. (And by “parents” I mean whoever is in the role of being the primary caregiver – I know there are many grandparents, stepparents, aunts, older siblings, foster parents and others who take on this important role.)

Parents underestimate the power of their relationship with their teens. Teens, after all, are often at a stage in life where they are pulling away from their families, spending more time outside of the house, have more access to media, and their peer group is ever more important to them. While this is a normal and healthy part of development, parents often see this as a rejection, especially when combined with the emotional ups and downs that can accompany the teen years. In fact, teens still need and want their parents to be involved in their lives.

Talking to teens about sex can be hard. Many parents don’t know where to start. As a health educator and youth worker, I have talked with thousands of kids about sex, and I’ll tell you a secret – it’s much harder to talk to my own. As an educator I am a neutral person who has valuable information. I can use what both research and my personal experience tells me works. I know that giving kids information about sex is helpful and not harmful. But when I talk with my own kids it has a different feeling. I know my words carry a different weight. Continue reading