What Parents Need to Know About Preventing Teen Pregnancy

By Julie Baumgardner
April 24, 2018

Teens want to know what adults think, even if they don’t act like it.

  • Adults are powerful figures in the lives of young people and hold the key to preventing teen pregnancy.
  • An MTV poll found teens ranked their parents as their #1 heroes.

Forget about “The Talk.” 

It is an 18-year conversation about love, relationships, values and sex. Start early and let your kids know that you are an “askable parent.”

  • Teens tell us their parents tend to give them information too late and in too vague a way.
  • They can get clinical information from school or books (and they already know more than you think), but what they really seek are parents who are comfortable talking with them about relationships, how to handle peer pressure to have sex, how to say “no” without hurting feelings, and other such issues.

Don’t let your daughter get involved with a much older guy.

  • Teen girls who date much older guys are more likely to report later that they didn’t really want to have sex in the first place and are less likely to use birth control/contraception.
  • Among mothers aged 15-17, about one in four has a partner who is at least five years older.
  • Older boys and men can lead younger girls into very risky situations and relationships.
  • Seventy percent of teenage pregnancies are caused by guys over the age of 20.

Sometimes, all it takes for teens not to have sex is not to have the opportunity.

  • Many teens say that if they had something to do after school that’s fun and interesting, they are less likely to experiment with sex, drinking, and other risky activities.
  • If parents can’t be home with kids after school, they need to make sure their kids are busy doing something constructive and engaging.

Parents need to make girls feel valued and important.

You can’t give a girl self-esteem, but you can give her the opportunity to develop it — encourage her involvement in sports, volunteering, drama classes or other activities that make her feel talented and confident.

  • Girls involved in sports are half as likely to get pregnant as non-athletes, regardless of how much sex education they have. They are more likely to delay sex until they are older, and to use protection when they do so.
  • Another study shows that girls who are active volunteers throughout their high school years have half the teen pregnancy rates of the average for their peers.
  • If you give a girl something positive to say “yes” to, she’ll be much more likely to say “no, not yet” to sex and pregnancy.
  • Remember, condoms do not protect the heart.

Talk to sons as well as daughters.

The nearly 1,000,000 teen girls who got pregnant each year don’t do it alone.

  • Boys need to know that teen pregnancy happens to them, too. We need to talk to boys – not just girls – about consequences, responsibility, sex, love and values. Surveys show that boys want to do the right thing.

Learn the facts yourself.

It is a scary world out there. Sexually transmitted diseases have multiplied at a frightening rate in the last 30 years.

  • We have gone from two to 38 identifiable Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s), and some of these – including AIDS, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and Herpes – are incurable.
  • HPV causes more than 90 percent of all invasive cervical cancers, and condoms do not prevent HPV. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 45 million Americans have HPV.
  • In addition, chlamydia is rampant and is frequently symptomless. Chlamydia is a leading cause of infertility in later life.

Adapted from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy Tips for Parents

Image from Pexels.com

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