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Monday, May 7, 2012

Preventing Teen Pregnancy


The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy recently conducted a survey of 1,002 teens (age 12-19) and 1,032 adults (age 20 and older) regarding teenage sex and sexual education.  Some key findings include:

  • Teenage Sexual Activity
    • 42% of teens agreed with the following statement: "It doesn't matter whether you use birth control or not, when it is your time to get pregnant, it will happen."
    • 44% of teens say they had not had sex before. Of sexually-experienced teens, 53% of boys and 67% of girls say they wish they had waited longer to have sex.
    • 38% of teens and 41% of adults cite parents as the people who most influence teen decisions about sex. 
      • 4% of teens and 3% of adults cite teachers/educators as most influential.
      • 6% of teens and 1% of adults cite religious leaders as most influential.
    • 87% of teens and 90% of adults agree with the statement: "It would be much easier for teens to postpone sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents." 
  • Sex Education
    • 49% of teens and 74% of adults believe that teens should be getting more information about both abstinence and contraception. (See SPL's stance on sex education here.)
    • 65% of adults believe federally-funded teen pregnancy prevention programs should provide teens with information about both postponing sex and contraception.
    • 75% of adults agree that policy makers who oppose abortion should support birth control. This finding was consistent across household income levels, educational levels, geographic region, and race/ethnicity. (See SPL's stance on birth control here.)
These findings seem to suggest strong support for comprehensive sex ed, and great potential for parents to help prevent teen pregnancy.

What do you think, dear Reader?  How do you (or would you) approach the topic of sex with your child?  How do you think educators should approach the topic?  What do you believe is the most effective method of preventing teen pregnancy?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's no point in talking about sex to kids when they're that young because it's tacitly encouraging them to do it. Only by withholding that knowledge will our children stay pure. God is the only one with a final say in the matter and nothing we do will change that, but we can't play a role in corrupting our youth.

Anonymous said...

I would say the best thing for parents to do is to stay involved in their kids lives, and to not shy away from difficult topics or simply assume that "the school will take care of it". Let your kids know that they can trust you, that you will be there to help them with mistakes and that nothing they can do will ever stop you from loving them, but that you will also be there to encourage them not to make mistakes and that you have certain expectations for their behaviour.

Sarah B said...

Seriously? By their teens, all children should have a solid understanding of how babies are made. "Talking to them about sex" includes not only telling them the facts of life but your expectations for their behavior, what age and under what circumstances you think sex is acceptable. Keeping them ignorant and hoping for the best is about the worst game plan you can come up with.

Anonymous said...

Parents need to be open and honest with their kids about sex. Contraception isn't going to prevent pregnancy 100% of the time and most methods don't prevent STDs.

Makes sense said...

My parents started talking to me about sex when I was 10, and not once did I feel they were encouraging me to have sex. I did, however, feel I could talk to them about sex, and I think that was really good for me.

I don't see why the topic of sex should be too different from other topics parents discuss. Parents impart their values when it comes to many other things, why not this too?

Simon said...

Don't feed the trolls

Simon said...

Just look at the European countries with good sex ed low abortion & rates.

Personally I would also like to see widespread STD testing become the norm and guys talking on 100% contraception.

marauderthesn said...

What I think gets overlooked a lot is that if you're a teenager and you're having sex, you're pretty much stepping into adulthood. You don't get to have sex and then protest that you're just a kid when something serious happens as a result of your having sex. You decided to engage in an adult activity and now you have to take on adult responsibility to the best of your ability. Becoming sexually active is something that will change your life in some way, shape, or form. Maybe it'll change it in a great way, or a stressful way, or an unfortunate way or a wonderful way, but it's going to change your life whether you want it to or not. If you're going to have sex, you need to be in a situation where it'll change your life for the better and not for the worse.

Anonymous said...

Exactly and most people want the adult pleasures but aren't willing to take on the adult responsibilities of having sex. That's not just in the case of teenagers. It's also the case for adults.

Anonymous said...

Most of the European countries have higher out of wedlock birth rates and higher government dependency rates.

Anonymous said...

Also they have socialized health care systems which bleed the country dry. look at countries like france and greece they are socialist hellholes and thier economy fails, look at america (except for under obama) best health care highest quality system in the world. Hopefully we will repeal Obamacare law and stop abortions.

Bilmiyorsunuz said...

I am distrubed by people who deny that children have a sexual identity. When two children have sex, it's not two children doing adult things, it's two children having sex. The sex does not make them adults any more than they were before they started the act. It is naive to think that children are incapable of sexual expression.

We can't define adulthood as merely reaching an abitrary age, or engaging in sexual activity. Adulthood is a social identity, and sexual intercourse is not a sufficient condition for adulthood. Even today we have college graduates returning to thier parents homes and living a prolongued adolescence.

Simon said...

Really?

5 Countries That Do It Better: How Sexual Prudery Makes America a Less Healthy and Happy Place. Sexual attitudes in Europe are the stuff of the Christian Right's nightmares — yet many of those societies are better for having more open attitudes toward sexuality.

http://www.alternet.org/sex/154970/5_countries_that_do_it_better%3A_how_sexual_prudery_makes_america_a_less_healthy_and_happy_place

marauderthesn said...

Of course children have a sexual identity - they think about sex, masturbate, fantasize, et cetera. It's still not appropriate for them to be having sex with each other. They need to realize how important and serious sexual intercourse is. I don't expect them to be complete adults - that's why I said "take on adult responsibility to the best of [their] ability." But it doesn't work to engage in adult sexual activity and then try to retreat to "I'm just a kid" when something serious happens. They chose to act like adults and now they have to be prepared to deal with adult consequences, good or bad.

LifeChoices said...

"You decided to engage in an adult activity and now you have to take on adult responsibility to the best of your ability."

And what exactly does that mean? That they shouldn't be allowed to have an abortion because it's an "easy out"? It's not. It's a technological solution to a biological problem. Much as gauze is a technical solution to a biological problem if you get in a car accident and start bleeding. We don't withhold gauze--or other medical technology--if a young person gets into a bad situation while driving a car (another adult activity). Why should we withhold it if they get into a bad situation after engaging in sex?

There are all sorts of "natural problems" that we solve or avoid with modern technology. Pregnancy is only one of them.

Ainas O'Leary said...

I have a giant desire to see suffering and punishment for people who break the rules. So i oppose women's access to abortion.

marauderthesn said...

LifeChoices: Do you want to actually ask me what I meant, or do you want to waste your time writing a whole paragraph based on your assumption?

LifeChoices said...

Well, marauderthesn, considering that we're both speaking the English language, I figured that I had a fair shot at discerning what you meant to start with. But if I misrepresented you, please feel free to clarify.

It seems to me that there's only two things that it was reasonable to suspect you of meaning by your insistence that young people need to "take on adult responsibility... when something serious happens as a result of [their] having sex": 1) Deal with the potential consequences of sex (pregnancy) by either giving birth or having an abortion, or 2) Deal with the potential consequences of sex (pregnancy) by giving birth.

#1 is self-evident. If you get pregnant, you have to deal with the consequences, and in America, there are two paths you can choose: childbirth or abortion. There are no other choices. Teenagers and other young adults can't avoid making this choice if they get pregnant, so of course they have to take on adult responsibility. No one can shield them from it at that point. If you meant #1, there wasn't really any point to your paragraph. It's like saying, "When you fall out of an airplane without a parachute, you should keep falling." The rational person's response is, "Huh? If I don't have a parachute, there isn't anything else I could be doing, now is there?"

If you meant #2, well, that's arguable. And I've already laid out my response to that.

If you meant something else, you certainly didn't say it very clearly. But I don't consider writing a waste of my time. I hope (against the evidence) that you don't consider it a waste of your time, either, and perhaps you will grace us with an explanation--of what you meant, if not of what you said.

marauderthesn said...

General rule for life: take people's words at face value and don't put your own personal assumptions on them.

I think the word "consequences" is getting in the way here; let's call it "cause and effect." Cause: you, a teenage boy, have sex with a girl. Possible effects: you get an STD, you fall in love, she falls in love with you but you don't love her, you're in love with her but she breaks your heart, you give her an STD, she gets pregnant, you pay child support for 18 years, she has a miscarriage, she has an abortion which you approve of, she has an abortion which you don't approve of, she has an abortion that you think you approve of but later wish hadn't happened, her parents tell your parents the two of you had sex, you find out she's cheating on you, you find out she told all her friends you were crappy in bed, you have fantastic sex and remember it fondly forever, you've just had sex with the love of your life, you've just had sex with someone you'll later despise, you've just had sex with someone whose name you'll misremember in twenty years, the two of you smile remembering it on your fortieth wedding anniversary...et cetera, et cetera. Teenagers think they can do things and those things won't lead to various outcomes. Before they make decisions about sex, they need to have thought of all possible outcomes, realize they can't necessarily escape any of them just because they're fifteen and can't drive, and realize that whatever happens won't be able to be undone. I have to leave the house now. Does that make some more sense to you?