Teen pregnancy rates are higher in the US than in other industrialized countries. In the year 2000, for example, there were 84 teen pregnancies per 1000 people in the US, but only 38 per 1000 in Canada and the rates in France and Sweden were even lower.
Between the years of 1990 and 2005, rates in the US fell gradually every year. By 2005, we had gone from 84 per 1000 to just over 40. In 2006, the rates climbed again to 41.9. Researchers, politicians and other interested parties debate about what caused that increase. But, it really doesn’t matter. The important thing for parents is that they talk to their kids about sex.
According to surveys conducted by pediatric groups, kids would rather talk to their parents about sex than receive education from other sources. The problem is that a lot of parents don’t feel comfortable talking about it. If we want to see those teen pregnancy rates start to drop again, we need to talk to our kids.
Pregnancies are not the only concern. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 19 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases every year and more than half of those occur in the 15-24 year old crowd.
There is no doubt that we are more careful about protecting ourselves as we get older. But we also know more about how to do that. We now have easier access to birth control and condoms.
Experts stress the need for open dialogue, not a one-time sex talk. They advise parents to begin early, having age-appropriate discussions with their children about where babies come from and later about condom use and postponing the act.
If you think that the teen pregnancy rates are high, you may be interested in another little statistic. According to surveys, 70% of all teenagers have had sex by their 19th birthday. In other words, the majority of our kids are having sex. About 25% of all girls have an STD between the ages of 14 and 19. One of the most common is the human papillomavirus, which increases a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer later on in life.
So, talking with your kids about sex can help protect their current and their future health. Talking about birth control, making yourself available for questions and above all, helping them to feel comfortable talking to you can help prevent teen pregnancy and STDs.
The subject of teens and sex is one that every parent will need to think about at some point. Each year in the US, about a million teenage girls become pregnant and three million contract a sexually transmitted disease. As a parent, it is your responsibility to talk with your children about safe sex at an early age. Here are some books that can help:
- Let’s Talk About S-E-X: Equipping Parents to Tackle Sex and Dating with Truth and Tenacity
- How to Say It to Teens: Talking about the Most Important Topics of Their Lives
- Breaking the Hush Factor: Ten Rules for Talking with Teenagers about Sex
- My Body, My Self for Girls (What’s Happening to My Body?)
Researchers have proven that “abstinence only” programs do not work. If your child’s school offers sex education classes, it is important that you allow your child to attend them. But don’t rely on them to do your job. If you speak openly with your children about age-appropriate sexual subjects, they will be more comfortable coming to you when they have a question or concern.
Judging by the number of teen pregnancies that occur every year, talking to your kids about birth control and making it readily available to them is a good idea. Depending on your religious beliefs, you may not feel comfortable with this. But, your child may not share your religious convictions.
All that you can do is to share your values and opinions. You may be able to convince him or her to postpone intercourse, but you need to be prepared in case they make a different choice.
The teenage years are emotional and hormones are pumping. Try not to be judgmental. Try to be supportive. That is a parent’s job.
When it comes to teens and sex, there are lots of resources. If you have a daughter, your gynecologist can help provide information and appropriate birth control suggestions. Sons will be more comfortable talking with their dads. But, if you’re a mom, you may need to give dad a little “push” in the right direction.
The Internet is a good resource when it comes to teens and sex. Websites offer ideas about how to begin a discussion. While you are at it, you might want to talk about drugs too. Try to keep the conversation pleasant. Don’t be afraid to laugh or express your own embarrassment. It will help your kids to feel more comfortable if they realize that you are a little uncomfortable too.
People often equate intercourse with love and intimacy. Explain to your child that love is much more than just having sex. Talk to them about how to resist pressure from boyfriends or girlfriends.
There will be many influences on your child’s life. Try to be the most positive one by learning more about the subject of teens and sex. There may be things that you’ve forgotten.