May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Awareness Month. May is also a time for many rites of passage for our teenagers from proms to graduations and first summer jobs. All of these offer our teens a heady taste of freedom and adulthood. But too many times those freedoms are cut short by an unplanned pregnancy.
No matter how many statistics we talk about and the media reports, too many teens think that it will never happen to them. But as our community is aware, it can and it does. Sex has consequences.
Teens — sons as well as daughters — say that parents most influence their decisions about dating and relationships.
It’s time for parents to step up to the plate and have conversations with our teens about sex, pregnancy, and STD’s. If you don’t know where to start, visit www.thenationalcampaign.org, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and download a copy of “Ten Tips for Parents To Help Their Children Avoid Teen Pregnancy.” It has sound, common sense advice that is backed by research. Look for “Things we need to say to teens” in today’s paper for more advice.
Sons need to have those conversations with parents just as much as daughters and they actually feel most comfortable talking about some topics with their dads, and some with their moms. Both parents need to be involved in educating and guiding their children about knowing the difference between sex and love in relationships. The health department has a brochure to help parents to talk with their sons and parents are encouraged to stop by for one. Don’t wait until it is too late to talk to your teens about sex and pregnancy. Help them to see that they have a bright future ahead and to set goals. Give them the support and knowledge to postpone becoming sexually active and to prevent an unintentional pregnancy.
Janel M. Rose,
public health educator,
Barton County Health Department,