The teen pregnancy rate in the United States is significantly higher than in other developed countries. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 26 out of every 1,000 teen girls aged 15 to 19 today will have a pregnancy that results in a live birth. In addition, studies show that teenagers account for 18 percent of all abortions performed in the United States.
Fortunately, research suggests that specific pregnancy prevention strategies can help reduce the prevalence of teen pregnancy.
Talking About Teen Pregnancy
One of the most effective steps parents can take to prevent pregnancy is to talk to their adolescents and teens about puberty, safe sex and healthy relationships. Many parents take the “Not my daughter!” stance, but experts strongly urge parents to set aside whatever preconceived notions they may have, and to confront this issue with compassion rather than judgment.
Parents should begin talks early, as soon as they believe their kids are ready. They must also be prepared and willing to answer any questions that come up. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, teens who talk with their parents about pregnancy, contraception, STDs and other related topics begin having sex at a later age and have sex less often than those teens who don’t or can’t talk with their parents or caregivers.
Teens who have comfortable communication with parents on these topics are also more likely to use condoms or other forms of birth control, and they have a lower risk of pregnancy.
Setting Clear Family Expectations
It may seem as if teens ignore their parents and don’t want to hear what they have to say. But teens do listen, and despite how they act, they absorb a lot of what you say and take it to heart.
When family values and rules are clearly defined, teens are more likely to fulfill parental expectations. To decrease the chance of teen pregnancy, parents must plainly communicate their beliefs regarding dating, relationships and sexual behavior. Having open and honest conversations can help influence the decisions teens make about sex.
Being There For Your Teen
Teens need their parents to be supportive and understanding, but they also need clear rules to follow. It is important for parents to establish curfews and set guidelines for dating and relationship behavior, and to establish and enforce consequences if the rules are broken. Enforcing consequences for bad decisions helps encourage the development of good judgment and solid values.
Parents may relate better to their teens if they get to know their friends and if they take an active interest in what their teens are watching, listening to and seeking out online.
Being there for teens also means providing the outside support they need. Every teen should have regular opportunities to privately visit a health care provider, because teens often feel more comfortable asking questions about pregnancy and other sexual topics with a medical professional.
Finally, don’t forget about trust. When you trust your daughter and believe she will make the right decisions and life choices, the chances are greatly improved that she will do just that.
We Can Help
At Havenwood Academy, we understand how difficult it is to raise teenage daughters. If you believe that your daughter or another young woman in your care is engaging in risky behavior, it may be time to seek help. Contact us today and let one of our compassionate crisis counselors help.
Our residential treatment center for girls ages 12 to 17 is dedicated to helping young women and their families overcome a variety of mental health and behavioral issues. We will be happy talk with you at any time and answer your questions about the risk factors of teen pregnancy.