According to a recent article by Slate, the U.S. teen birth rate dropped again, hitting a new all time low of 22 births per thousand women between ages 15 to 19 years of age.
by Rachelle Megan
This is still way too high. This works out to 2% of US teens aged 15 to 19 years old getting pregnant! I was disturbed to read that many parts of the US are still only teaching abstinence. That is all they taught MY daughter in school.
True confession time: Many or most of you know I WAS a teen mom. Although I knew the basics, there were many things about boys and relationships that I am embarrassed to say I had no idea about before becoming a pregnant teen.
From the time that my daughter was very little, I was plagued by the statistic that teen moms tend to beget teen moms. So I researched how to PREVENT teen pregnancy.
The answer was one of the few things all the parenting books and articles could agree on: lots and lots of sex education. According to the books, you cannot provide too much sex education and you cannot provide it too early.
The logic is that anything the child asks should be answered in an age-appropriate manner, but if you go overboard, it is okay because the child’s mind will simply filter it out. I have found this to be the case.
I fortified my lessons with age-appropriate books about sex and sexuality as well as drug use. (When I say “age-appropriate” I mean that I selected material that was accurate, straightforward, and written in sort of a magazine style to appeal to the preteen audience and make it readable and interesting.)
There is a surprising amount of misinformation about sex circling and crucial information is missing.
If I had to name some facts/guidelines that are most important for teen and/or preteen girls to know, these would be they:
1. Always listen to your body and protect your body. It is yours and yours alone and it is sacred. There may come a time when your body tells you the time is right to have sex and you may decide to wait until you marry if you choose. However, whatever you do, make sure the timing has to do with you making a loving decision towards this sacred trust, your own physical self. It does not happen that way for many women and that is unfortunate, but even if it has previously been violated, your body is still yours and is still sacred. (A man can spit in a church, but it does not make the church less holy.)
2. Learn how to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs, formerly known as STDs). The best way to prevent them all is abstinence. The second best way is by using condoms. Some STIs, such as herpes and HIV, are forever. Some STIs, such as HIV, can be fatal.
3. You CAN get an STI from oral sex although it is less likely.
4. Many people misuse condoms. Learn not to be one of them.
5. If the condom breaks and you are not on the pill, or if you foolishly did not use any birth control and are a teen… well, you just left yourself open to STIs. Go get yourself checked. Maybe there is a free clinic. However, meanwhile, within the first 72 hours and as soon as possible — get “Plan B”.
In many places, Plan B is available over the counter. It is not cheap (about $30 Canadian dollars here). That gets you one dose. Buy Gravol at the same time. Not the herbal Gravol — the real thing. You will want to throw up when you take the Plan B.
Plan B is not fun. It is a reminder not to sleep with men who don’t know how to use condoms properly. It is a mega dose of birth control hormones and it is really hard on the system.
Contrary to some people’s opinion, it is NOT an abortion pill. It is an emergency contraceptive. That is, it does not abort an embryo… it stops the sperm and egg from getting together.
6. Boys will not like you more if you have sex with them — at least not the right kind of boys and not for the right reasons.
7. Most girls who are interested in sex young are either being pressured by a partner or were sexually abused. If this is your situation, please know that it is not or was not your fault, no matter how sure you are that it secretly is or was. Nearly every girl who was abused feels that way. Please try to get help. If there is no help available, please believe in yourself, stay strong, get educated, and believe that life will get better because it really can.
8. If you get pregnant, choose wisely the right decision for you. Being a pregnant teen is extremely challenging. I imagine it is also difficult to live with the options of abortion or adoption. However, do not ignore thoughts about these things because this possibility is real.
9. Although it seems like it could never happen to you, pregnancy is real and a natural consequence of unprotected sex. It should go without saying, but it needs to be said. Teenagers feel invincible — it’s not just the demographic — it’s the hormones and the lack of life experience. So, the idea that something bad can actually happen can sometimes elude the teenage brain.
Parenting a child as a teen aged mother was very difficult. I love my daughter but I am glad she is grown up. I would like to live in an era where the teen birth rate is less than 1%! Parenting is a hard enough job for people who are over the age of majority!