Unless you have been living under a rock (Not that there is anything wrong with that), you have witnessed the popularity of the Teen Mom reality shows. There are at least three I can think of off the top of my head: Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant and My Teen is Pregnant and So Am I (!).
In the face of all this “reality” it makes sense to ask “How many teens really get pregnant?”. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “The number of births to teenagers aged 15-19 in 2009 fell to 409,840, the fewest since 1946 and 36 percent fewer than in 1970 (644,708), the historic high point.” This works out to be ”39.1 of every 1,000 teenagers”.
Essentially, the state of teen pregnancy in America has improved, but it could get better. How can you keep your teen from becoming one of the approximately 400,000 who get pregnant each year?
Sex Ed? Maybe.
There are essentially two types of Sex Ed programs. There are Abstinence-only programs, which emphasize abstinence and include ”medically-accurate” health information and there are Abstinence-plus programs that utilize a combination of abstinence education and contraceptive use.
How do you know which one your school uses? You can contact the school, but if that’s not a phone call you feel comfortable making you can visit the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) website linked below (listed as Healthy Schools) for specific information about your state.
Be aware that many states give individual school districts the freedom to implement these laws and policies as they see fit. If you need more information, I recommend you contact an administrator at your school.
What’s a Parent to Do?
You want your child to have an excellent education, right? Sex Ed should a part of their “Education” whether they learn about it at home or school.
Talk to your children about your family’s values regarding sex before marriage and above all, teach them how to protect themselves from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. I know this conversation may feel weird and akward, but it is definitely less akward than having both a teenager and an infant living in your home!
Andrea Norman, School Counselor, M.Ed Counseling
Previously Published by Andrea Norman on I Counsel Online: The Blog. http://theonlineschoolcounselor.com/2012/09/21/babies-having-babies/