Tips for Preventing Teen Pregnancy
The best way parents can help prevent teenage pregnancy is by building close, strong, open relationships with their children long before they reach their teen years. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy offers these additional tips for parents.
- Talk to your children about sex early and often. If you’re unsure how to initiate a discussion, use situations shown on TV or in movies as starting point.
- Always know where your teen is, who he or she is with, and what activities they’re planning.
- Know your teen’s friends and their families.
- Discourage early, frequent, and steady dating. Encourage group activities instead.
- Strongly discourage your daughter from dating a boy more than 2 years older, and your son from dating a girl more than 2 years younger.
- Know what movies your teen watches, what magazines she reads, and what music he listens to. Inappropriate messages about sex abound in today’s popular media.
Strategies to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
There are only two strategies to prevent teen pregnancy ? abstinence and contraception.
While more than two-thirds of Americans believe teens should practice sexual abstinence, teenage pregnancy rates (84 per 1,000 girls aged 15?19 in 2001) show it’s unrealistic to expect all teens to abstain from sex.
If you discover your teen is sexually active and unlikely to practice abstinence, providing access to contraception may be your most effective option for preventing pregnancy.
If you feel unqualified to discuss contraception with your teen, then make an appointment with your family physician or with your local public health department and accompany your teen on the visit.
Alternatively, you can find a family planning clinic in the local yellow pages under Birth Control or Family Planning.
What To Do if Your Teen is Pregnant
There are a number of resources and options available to help teens and their parents through this difficult situation. Most services and resources can be accessed through local public health programs.
Depending on where you live, these programs may be administered though your county government or by a local public health department or agency. Services available typically include:
- Information on adoption and abortion
- Prenatal care
- Counseling for teen mothers and their family members Infant care classes
- Alternatives for continuing the teen’s education
- Access to legal assistance if needed
If living at home is unsafe for the teen mother, public programs can often help provide foster care for the teen in a secure, adult supervised environment.