Today’s teens are smart, straight forward thinkers, who want honest facts and answers to their questions. They are data-driven, social media savvy and can Google just about anything.
As parents of teens, we need to prepare to meet them on their terms for communication. An open and honest discussion about sex, relationships and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases is so important.
There is no 1950s tiptoeing around the subject of sex and pregnancy. Teens can surf the web faster than we can answer our phones! We need to give them the most accurate information available from trusted, reliable sources.
What are the facts?
- In 2017, a total of 194,377 babies were born to women ages 15-19 This is a birth rate of 18.8 per 1,000 women in this age group. This was another record low for U.S. teens, and a drop of 7 percent from 2016 according to the CDC.
- The CDC notes that although reasons for the declines are not totally clear, evidence suggests these declines are due to more teens abstaining from sexual activity, and more teens who are sexually active using birth control than in previous years.
- According to the 2019 Pew Research data, the U.S. teen birth rate has fallen dramatically over time. In 2018, the birth rate among 15-19-year-old girls and women was less than half of what it had been in 2008.
Will it make a difference?
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that “yes,” talking to our teens does make a difference. Parents have the greatest influence over their teen’s decisions about sex—more than friends, siblings, or the media.
What are the teen talking points?
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy asked teens from all over the country if they could give their parents and other adults advice on how to talk to them about avoiding pregnancy, what would it be? Here are a few examples of what teens were saying from a June 2016 article:
- Talk to us honestly about love, sex and relationships. Just because we are young doesn’t mean that we can’t fall in love or be interested in sex. These feelings are very real and powerful for us. Help us handle the feelings in a safe way.
- Telling us not to have sex is not enough. Explain why you feel that way, and ask us what we think. Tell us how you felt as a teen. Listen to us and take our opinions seriously.
- Whether we’re having sex or not we need to be prepared. We need to know how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
- If we ask about sex or birth control, don’t assume we are already having sex. We may just be curious, or we may want to talk with someone we trust. Don’t think that giving us information about sex and birth control will encourage us to have sex.
- We really do care what you think, even if we don’t always act it. When we don’t end up doing exactly what you tell us to do, don’t think you have failed to reach us.
- We hate The Talk as much as you do. Instead, start talking with us about sex and responsibility when we’re young and keep the conversation going as we grow older.
Teenagers are wise beyond their years and as parents, we can give them educational tools, advice and guidance to help them make the right choices.
Parents can get more information:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Positive parenting practices @ www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/protective/positiveparenting/index.htm
Office of Adolescent Health. Talking with Teens. Teens and Parents Talking @ www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/resources-and-publications/info/parents/get-started-quiz.html
U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services. Talk to your kids about Sex.
The information on this site is intended to raise awareness, and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis, or a substitute for health care by your physician.