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Sex Education Should Start at Home

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How many teenagers do you know or associate yourself with that soon to be mothers? I’m sure we all can name quite a few in this generation. Teenage pregnancy is a major issue on the rise in America’s society, but there are many ways to prevent teen pregnancy, many people to get advice from, and many decisions that a teen parent must make. Education is one of the best ways to prevent teenagers from becoming pregnant. Not the basic school based sexual education where you’re split up during health class, boys in one room and girls in another. Parents stepping up and educating our youth would help these teenagers understand all the consequences of becoming a teenage parent, and all the advantages that they can have if they protect themselves from becoming pregnant. Yes, it’s time for “the talk”!

One of the main issues teenagers fail to realize is that every time you participate in sexual activities you are planning a pregnancy. And, if you can’t realize that, how can you be expected to think about the detrimental effects of pregnancy at such a young age. Nearly half of high school students have had sexual intercourse, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Teenage pregnancy brings a range of problems to the mother as well as the child. The mother now must face social, economic and health issues throughout the rest of her life. As soon as you are expected to be pregnant, you are likely to lose the support from not only your family, but many are found to lose the relation with sex partners as well. At the times when she needs the utmost parental care and support, she is left helpless. Being alone and financial independent can deeply affect the mental as well as emotional aspects of the teenager. Also, pregnant teenagers are likely to discontinue their education. This eventually leads to the possible long-term unemployment and brings a larger financial load on the mother’s shoulder. As a result, the mother is more likely to opt for low paid jobs with a low income thus affects the overall growth of the child as poverty cannot afford to offer adequate health care and even basic necessities. Although not surprised, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “In 2013, a total of 273,105 babies were born to women aged 15–19 years, for a live birth rate of 26.5 per 1,000 women in this age group.”

Not having the sex talk with your children is a large mistake to make as a parent. “The first thing mothers need to know is that they are a critical voice in their daughters’ sex education,” according to Leslie Kantor, MPH, national director of education at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Despite the statistics, many parents still avoid having frank conversations about sex with their children. If we are not educating our teenagers about teenage pregnancy, then who is? If we cannot open up about this topic with our children, then how can we expect someone else to do it? In one recent study of 600 young people aged 12 to 15, nearly one third of the kids said they had never talked to their parents about sex. Kids today know a lot more about sex than we think they do, but is all this information being fed to them by their peers factual? In fact, Dr. Berman says “Children are being forced to make sexual decisions by middle school, from receiving sexually explicit text messages—also called “sexting”—to feeling pressured to perform acts like oral sex.” Parents don’t necessarily need to have a lot of sophisticated knowledge or technical information about sex in order to have this conversation with their kids. Although some mothers may say they shy away from the conversation because they don’t want to seem like they’re condoning sex, but you have to arm your daughters with as much information as you can. Seventeen magazine editor-in-chief Ann Shoket says “Girls don’t only want the nuts-and-bolts talk about sex—they want to learn more about the feelings that can come with it. Some parents think they’ve covered the bases with one or two comments, then leave their daughters to fend for themselves. “It’s clear that these girls are doing very advanced sexual things,” she says. “And yet what they really want their mothers to talk about is the emotional side. They want their mothers to talk to them about: ‘How do I know if this boy is just using me? How do I know if I’m ready for it?’ That’s the part where mothers play a huge role that the Internet or their friends just can’t do.” As parents we teach our children to cook, clean the house, wash clothes and so on, so we as parents should also be teaching them about teenage pregnancy and the consequences.

Overall, parents stepping up and educating our youth would help these teenagers understand all the consequences of becoming a teenage parent, and all the advantages that they can have if they protect themselves from becoming pregnant. Therefore, decreasing the rate of teenage pregnancies in today’s society. Look for Dr. Berman’s book, “Talking to Your Kids about Sex.” filled with guides and tips of undergoing this conversation. One parent stated after reading this book, “An especially helpful feature is the far-ranging set of questions at the beginning of each new topic directed at parents themselves, designed to encourage, if not urge, them to think and talk through their own attitude and values, and the values they most want to impart, well before they begin dialogue with their children.” When you know better, you do better!

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