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Preventing Teen Pregnancy

A whopping 34% of young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20 -- about 820,000 a year. Eight in ten of these teen pregnancies are unintended, and 79% are to unmarried teens. In 2008, a group of teen girls at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts even made a pact to get pregnant together.

Top 3 Tips to Prevent Teen Pregnancy Pacts, from Dr. Lisa Boesky

  1. Send your kids the message that they shouldn't get pregnant in their teenage years, just as you'd tell them not to drink alcohol or do drugs. "There's nothing wrong with saying, 'While you're in school, don't get pregnant,'" Dr. Boesky says.
  2. Don't let your daughters date much older boys, and don't let your sons date much younger girls.
  3. Above all, stay involved and keep the lines of communication open. "Contrary to popular belief, kids want to talk to you about this stuff," Dr. Boesky concludes.

"Although almost nine out of 10 teen pregnancies are still unplanned, there is a significant minority of teens who seek to get pregnant," says Bill Albert, spokesman and chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. "However, the pregnancy pact -- where girls agree to get pregnant and raise their children together -- is a quite new and distressing trend. Just the fact that such a pact exists underscores how ill-prepared these girls really are for motherhood. Any mother in America can tell you how difficult being a mom really is and how it's not something to be entered into lightly. The fact these teens think they will 'raise the babies together' shows you how out of touch with the realities of parenthood they really are."


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What Moms Can Do about Preventing Teen Pregnancy

In light of the circumstances surrounding the 2008 Massachusetts pregnancy pact, Bill Albert, spokesman and chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, says all this emphasizes how important it is to discuss relationships, love, sex, pregnancy, and family formation with your kids sooner than later. "This should be the 18-year discussion that never ends," Albert stresses.

Rather than sitting kids down at 14 or 15 and explaining the "birds and the bees" in one long, awkward conversation (which Albert feels isn't effective, anyway), he says parents should start these conversations earlier than they think. "I'm not saying you need to discuss contraceptives with an 8-year-old," he adds, "but that is a good time to start discussing what a good relationship is, and how to respect a boy or a girl."

When it comes to communicating about love and sex with your kids, Albert says it's important to take baby steps and to send small signals over a long period of time. "You would never ignore how a kid does in school from kindergarten to seventh grade, but suddenly come up to him in eighth grade and say, 'You have to take school seriously.' That's a message you send kids over years and years," he says. "Discussions about love, sex, pregnancy, and family formation are really the same way. It's critical to send age-appropriate signals at different times."

When moms do discuss love and sex, are kids even listening? Yes, says Albert. "All the polls and studies that have been done indicate that the people who most influence teens' decisions about love and sex are not their friends, or their boyfriends or girlfriends ... it's their parents," he explains. "Teens are yearning for your guidance from you, even if it doesn't seem like they are."

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Related Momlogic Stories on Preventing Teen Pregnancy

  1. The Purity Promise
  2. Juno Makes Me Wish I Had a Boy
  3. Baby-Faced Boy Becomes Father at 13

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