Teaching your children good morals and values may not be enough in this day and age to keep them from becoming sexually active through their teen years. It is perfectly natural for teens to have an overabundance of hormonal activity. With all of their changing hormones and physical body changes comes interest in the opposite sex and a natural curiosity to experiment with things they have read, or heard about. As if that is not enough for a teen to want to explore their sexuality, add a little peer pressure, and the chances of teens becoming sexually active become even greater. All of these things not only apply to girls, but teenage boys as well. Teaching good morals and values is an important part of keeping your teenager “morally clean”, but it is just one step of several that can help prevent sexual activity and teen pregnancy.
Here are a few tips that may help:
- Speak openly and honestly with your children about their bodies, starting at a young age. This can help you and them feel comfortable in discussing age appropriate topics relating to sex throughout the years.
- Attend any school sponsored maturation presentations. This will ensure your children are getting accurate information and open up opportunities for discussions, and provide you with the opportunity to include your own families beliefs and expectations.
- Watch TV with your teen. Yes, watch TV. Chances are your teens are watching shows like “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”. GREAT time to see what your teens opinions are and share insight to how unglamorous and exciting reality of being a teen mom can be.
- Use teen statistics – The consequences related to teen sexual activity and pregnancy speak for themselves in statistics. Teens will respond better to you sharing statistics and facts on sexually transmitted diseases and drop out rates of pregnant teens, rather than telling them “because I’m your parent and I know…”
- Listen to your teen – YOU may have strong political or religious beliefs on sex, abortion, adoption, and teen pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean your teen does. Avoid the blame game if he/she doesn’t believe the same as you – your teens safety, health, education, and future is what’s important.
- Lead by example – By supporting local and national efforts to educate and prevent teen pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, etc… you are going to send a message and set an example for your teen to follow.
- EDUCATION – Regardless of your stand on contraception and abstinence, educating your child is the best means of prevention. If they do not learn about sex and pregnancy from their parents they are bound to learn it elsewhere. Do you want to have your child learn incorrect information from unreliable sources, because you were afraid to discuss it with them? Or know you are doing your part as a parent to educate and protect your child?
If you think your teen is not “one of those kids” – here are just a few statistics to consider:
- In the U.S. the teen pregnancy rate is 72.2% (per 1,000 girls age 15-19) vs. France 25.7%, Germany 18.8%, and Canada 16.3%
- Teen sex statistics indicate 75% of teenagers have had intercourse before age 20
- Public cost for teen pregnancy in the U.S. is between $6 and $9 BILLION per year!
- 80% of teen moms are on some form of public assistance
- 7 out 0f 10 teen mothers are unlikely to receive prenatal care
- Children born to teen mothers are at greater risk for emotional and physical abuse
- Baby boys of teen mothers are at increased risk for incarceration later in life
- Baby girls born to teen mothers are more likely to become teen moms themselves
- Both boys and girls are more at likely to struggle academically
One of the best ways to communicate with your children about sex and set up boundaries is by using parent contracts. Parent contracts allow both parent and child to come to agreement on beliefs, goals, rewards, and consequences.