Teens and Pregnancy: 10 Things They Don’t Tell Your Teen in Sex Ed
May 27, 2016
Some parents may find it awkward or difficult to talk to their kids about sex, but May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month so there is no better time than the present! Here are a few things they may not have learned in health class.
The majority of teens do not want to be parents, in fact 78% of births to teen mothers are unintended.1Teens want to go to college and become more financially stable before having to care for a child. According to the USDA, the cost to raise a child in the first year of life is almost $10,500. Most teenagers do not have that kind of money lying around!
According to the Ohio Youth Risk Behavior Survey, less than half of high school students reported ever having sex.2 Many teens assume that “everybody’s doing it,” but not all are and not all sexually experienced teens receive formal instruction about contraception. You would not drive a car without taking driver’s education and getting a license so why would you have sex without getting information about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy?
Babies born to teen parents are at higher risk of prematurity (being born early) and low birth weight (being born too small) which could put the baby at a higher risk of dying during the first year of life (infant mortality).
Birth control has come a long way. Now there are more options than ever and there are birth control methods that last for years, requiring little to no effort. They are low maintenance and most are available for free!
Most birth control methods do not protect against STIs—only condoms can reduce the risk of contracting an STI. STIs that go untreated can put your child at risk of getting a serious infection and of losing the ability to have children in the future.
Choosing to engage in sexual activities is an individual decision, alone. No one can say it is okay or manipulate another person into having sex. Everyone has the power and ability to say “no,” – even if sex has already started to take place. Tell them to flat-out refuse, say “I’m not ready,” or to wait as long as they wish.
When choosing to have sex and not use birth control, teens are choosing to become a parent, and the responsibility (a BIG one) is theirs for the rest of their life. The lifetime cost of raising a child to the age of 18 years old is around $245,000. Tell them to ask themselves – Am I ready for this?
Both boys and girls are responsible for protecting each other from STIs and are responsible if there is a pregnancy. Raising a baby is an expectation for both people involved – which means financial commitments/child support, lots of time and energy, and most likely a drastic lifestyle change.
Of teen girls who have dropped out of high school, 30% cite pregnancy or parenthood as a reason and only 38% of teen girls who have a child before age 18 get a high school diploma by age 22.3 College can also be a challenge for teen moms as only 2% of teen moms graduate from college before age 30!4 It’s hard to balance the responsibility of parenthood with school, friends, and activities. Some teens are afraid of what their parents and friends will think if they become pregnant, so they may hide their pregnancy or pretend it’s not there. Pregnancy requires a lot of medical care – especially early on – so if you or your child know someone who is pregnant, please urge them to seek care immediately!
There are many resources available for teens in Central Ohio to receive free birth control, pregnancy care, pregnancy options, and supportive resources. For help with a healthy pregnancy, please contact Nationwide Children’s Hospital Teen and Pregnant Clinic at (614) 355-6350, StepONE at (614) 721-0009, listen to our PediaCast on talking to kids about sex, or click here for more information on our BC4Teens program.
Mosher WD, Jones J, Abma JC. Intended and unintended births in the United States: 1982–2010. National health statistics reports; no 55. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.
TEEN CHILDBEARING, EDUCATION, AND ECONOMIC WELLBEING. Why it Matters. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Available https://thenationalcampaign.org/sites/default/files/resource-primary-download/childbearing-education-economicwellbeing.pdf. Accessed on 5/3/16
Kara L. Malone, MD is a board eligible obstetrician and gynecologist. She joined Nationwide Children’s Hospital as medical director of the Teen and Pregnant (TaP) Program. Her clinical interests include the care of pregnant adolescents and providing culturally sensitive care to minorities, including the LGBTQAI population.
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