Teenagers worry about friends, school and relationships as they begin discovering who they are. Some teenagers experience the added worry of becoming parents. Normal teenage difficulties become accelerated when teen parents have the responsibility of a child, but there are ways to engage young people and help reduce the likelihood of teen pregnancy.
Teen Pregnancy Rates in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen pregnancies in the United States occur at a rate of 17.4 per 1,000 women aged 15-19 years. The birth rate in this age group has dropped in the previous few years but remains higher than in other developed countries. Pew Research Center reports teen birth rates approaching a record low for the United States. However, the teen pregnancies that are still happening cause many difficulties for young parents. Teen parents struggle with finishing their education and achieving financial stability in addition to mental health concerns.
The falling teen birth rates in the United States are a product of a multitude of factors such as economic conditions, birth control usage and decreased sexual activity among teens. While parents and healthcare providers cannot control economic conditions, they can speak with teens about reproductive health and birth control options.
Preventing Teen Pregnancy
The likelihood of teen pregnancy can be reduced in many ways, starting by providing teens with proper reproductive health information. Parents, healthcare professionals or other trusted adults can all participate. Constructive conversations about reproductive health are crucial to building trusting relationships. These working relationships will encourage teens to be more receptive of reproductive health information and options.
Teens may, of course, resist reproductive health conversations. It is important to properly create discussions about sex. Use the following tips to begin:
- Create a safe environment. Teens are known for their sudden mood changes and difficulties communicating, especially around a personal topic such as sex. A safe and supportive environment is the first step to open conversations.
Parents and teens can create safe environments for discussion, but they can exist elsewhere too. Healthcare professionals can answer questions teens have about reproductive health. Ask teens who they feel comfortable discussing sex with for other ideas too.
- Be an active listener. People want to feel heard when they speak. When a teen communicates about an important topic like sex, active listening is crucial. Mind Tools provides the following key active listening techniques:
- 1. Pay attention
- 2. Show that you’re listening
- 3. Provide feedback
- 4. Defer judgement
- 5. Respond appropriately.
- Bring the knowledge. Despite their beliefs, teens do not know everything. They need guidance from educated adults in their lives, whether they’re wondering about physics or birth control options. Bring information to conversations with your teen to help them learn. Consult a professional or gather credible information about birth control options, safe sex practices, abstinence and healthy relationships.
Teen pregnancy rates are declining, and we can help them decrease further. Opening discussions with teens about reproductive health is critical to decreasing the rates. Ask your healthcare provider for information regarding birth control, abstinence, healthy relationships and other resources to prevent teen pregnancy. Let’s get talking.