Two Steps Behind is Too Late

In a recent blog, we found out that parents typically think their teens are both more innocent and less interested in the opposite sex than they actually are.  It’s no surprise, then, that when it comes to parents talking to their children about sex, they are almost always a step or two behind where they should be!  A study by the Rand corporation found that “A large proportion of parents and adolescents reported that they did not communicate about key topics before the adolescents became sexually active.”  When they did, “Communication was almost always earlier with daughters than with sons and earlier relative to their sexual activity, which means that parents typically had less time to communicate preemptively with sons.”  Unfortunately, and tragically, that means that some of our children will also be experiencing the consequences of their actions before we’ve had a chance to warn them, or steer them toward healthier choices.  Sadly, I had a teen boy in one of my classes who looked exhausted from trying to juggle senior year stresses at the same time he was helping raise his baby.  I also have a friend whose very first sexual experience led not only to an unplanned pregnancy, but an incurable STD.  The decision she made “just once” impacts her still in her 50s.  Parents…now’s the time to comment on that TV show or news headline, discuss those lyrics your teen is singing, talk about boundaries for dating, etc.  We can’t make them choose wisely, but we can alert them to what “wise” looks like before they are in the middle of a relationship they are unprepared for.

STD becoming a “superbug”

Those of you who have been to our parent workshop were probably shocked to find out that 1 in 4 sexually active teens has an STD by the time they graduate high school.  We try to keep you up to date on the risks so you know how to keep your children informed as well.  A recent article on gonorrhea sounds the alarm that it is becoming resistant to drug treatment…the definition of a “superbug.”  The U. S. Center for Disease Control website confirms that “Historically, gonorrhea has progressively developed resistance to all antibiotic drugs prescribed to treat it: drugs such as penicillin, tetracycline, spectinomycin, and ciprofloxacin.”

After reading the article, I noticed that someone named Kathy had posted the following poignant warning: “I had gonorrhea when I was 20. I almost died. I also, afterward, had an ectopic pregnancy and several miscarriages. I eventually did have a healthy child, but the pain and suffering weren’t worth the few minutes of sex that caused the problem. If only young people could see how foolish unmarried sex is. So little for the huge cost, not to mention the guilt that comes with it. You think you don’t feel guilty? Of course you do. It’s all buried inside. Been there, done that. Just say no.”

I was reminded again that the risks to our precious young ones  are real, and the consequences can be devastating.

The Morning After?

Let’s talk about emergency contraception.

Being an abstinence program, EC (also know as “Plan B” or “the Morning After Pill”) is not something we promote or provide for our students. However, it’s important to know what it is, and what it does. If you are like I was, parents, perhaps you aren’t sure of the difference between it and the other pill – RU 486. For simplicity’s sake, today I will focus on EC, and save a description of RU 486 for another day.

What is Emergency Contraception?

EC is a pill – a high dose of hormones (also found in birth control pills). Continue reading The Morning After?

Resources: Sexting Info, Dating Discussions, and the 3 in 10 Statistic

Today’s post is a potpourri of information for you, parents. I couldn’t decide which topic I wanted to focus on, so I decided I’d share three different things with you. All the documents are printable, so you can run them off and keep them handy!

W4YM uses the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy as a resource quite often. Although it is not considered “abstinence only”, it is an excellent source of information about teen culture, pregnancy and STDs.

This week I noticed an article on sexting that has plenty of interesting statistics for parents. Are you wondering how prevalent sexting really is amongst our teens? Check it out.

Additionally, the National Campaign had scripts for parents who want to talk to their teens about relationships and dating. When reading through this, I thought some of the wording was a bit cliche, but it does set a framework for how you can start and continue a conversation. If you don’t like the wording, or think it may cause some eye-rolling, keep the concept but substitute some of your own words.

Finally, during our parent workshops, we inform parents that current statistics show that roughly 3 in 10 teen girls will become pregnant by the end of high school. A startling statistic, no? How do they figure it out? Read it here:

Contraceptive failure: user error?

I recently became aware of a statistic from the National Survey of Family Growth. In a study on Contraceptive Failure Rates from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the data show that about 1 in 5 teenage females using condoms as birth control will become pregnant within the first year of use. That failure rate (20%) is much higher than the clinical tests for condoms, and inconsistent condom use is usually blamed for the high rate.

Interestingly, the failure rate increases significantly for cohabiting couples, even within the same age category. For teenagers (age < 20) who live together and use condoms, 51-71% (depending on socioeconomic status) will become pregnant within the first year.

The jump in unintended pregnancy for those couples living together is startling. These teenagers are receiving the same education about condoms and contraception as their non-cohabiting peers, and are making the same choice to rely on condoms, but the difference in lifestyle choice has a dramatic effect on their ability to avoid teenage pregnancy. Apparently, knowing how and why to use condoms does not reduce unintended pregnancy as significantly as choosing not to cohabit before marriage. This says to me that lifestyle education and encouraging positive lifestyle choices (such as abstinence) is far more beneficial to reducing teenage pregnancy than simply educating teens about condoms.