In a recent survey, 68% of teens said they agreed with this statement: The primary reason they don't use birth control or protection is because they're afraid their parents will find out. According to research by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, that’s nearly seven out of ten teens who say they are scared of what their parents might think or say about their sex lives.
Although the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. is currently lower than it has ever been in the last seventy years, this development is quite worrisome. Teens are risking pregnancy by having unprotected sex instead of talking to their parents. If there was ever a reason for parents to have a conversation with their kids about sex, this is it.
Bill Albert, the chief program officer for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said that many parents say they want their kids to be using birth control or protection if they are having sex, but they just don't feel comfortable being the ones sharing that information. "Because somehow that implies...that it's almost like implicit tacit approval, like, 'You want to have sex. You go right ahead. Just be protected. You'll be fine.' That's not the view of most parents," Albert said.
But making sure that teens are aware of using protection should be a no-brainer for parents. Parents also need to stop thinking about sex and birth control talks as one-time conversations. "It's an 18-year conversation and that should be encouraging news. No one wants the pressure of saying, 'I've got one crack at this and one crack only,'" said Albert.
There is no single answer on when the right time to start talking to your kids about sex and birth control is because every child is different. "I think the important point is that you don't wait until they are 16 or 17 to start talking to them about sex because that is almost always too late," said Albert.
Unfortunately, many parents believe that avoiding “the talk” is the safest way to promote abstinence. However, children are privy to this kind of information from countless of other sources—friends, TV, online, etc. As Amanda Rodriguez noted in a hilarious post for her blog Dude Mom: "While having 'The Talk' is uncomfortable and hard and possibly embarrassing for both of you, it's nowhere near as embarrassing as finding out your 12-year-old is knocked up or that your 14-year-old son is gonna be a baby's daddy by spring break.”
Amen to that. Let’s hope that more parents will agree with this perspective and that teens will not be embarrassed to talk to their parents about sex.
Image via: thinkprogress.org