According to a 2011 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 47 percent of teens admit to having sex. Additionally, more than 39 percent of those teens didn't use a condom and over 76 percent didn't use any type of birth control. Considering those numbers, preventing teen sex is the No. 1 way to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies. While preventing your teen from having sex is a challenging task, you can help her learn about the benefits of abstinence.
Open communication is key to preventing your teen from having sex. If you believe in abstinence until marriage, or just feel that your adolescent isn't mature enough to handle a sexual relationship, discussing your family's values and his options is crucial to stopping these behaviors before they start. KidsHealth.org notes that that talking to teens about sex and abstinence can reduce the risk of getting an STD or becoming pregnant. This discussion should include the facts and statistics about the negative consequences that may arise from having sex -- especially unprotected sex -- as well as your own beliefs. For example, let your teen know that, according to the CDC, over 9 million young people between 15 and 24 contract an STD each year. Follow this up by talking about how abstinence is the only way to completely prevent getting one of these diseases.
2. State-Run Programs
If you doubt your abilities to effectively communicate your belief in abstinence, or your teen simply won't listen to you, consider enrolling her in a state-run program. These initiatives include classes, workshops, lectures, discussion groups and other similar activities that are led by peer leaders, professional health care workers or public health educators. For example, the New Jersey Teen Prevention Education Program (Teen PEP) is a peer-educator-taught series of classes where teens can learn about risks such as unplanned pregnancy, STDs, sexual violence and sexual harassment. Students learn the facts about risky sexual behaviors, as well as ways to problem-solve and make decisions when it comes to a sexual, or pressure-filled, situation.
3. School Programs
Some schools offer sexual prevention programs that teens can take with parental consent. These programs may focus on a specific aspect of teen sex, such as unplanned pregnancies or STDs, or they may cover a more general topic like abstinence. A trained high school educator -- such as the health teacher, guidance counselor or school nurse -- may lead the program, providing teens with facts, information and ways to say no. These programs may also include group discussions that can help teens to better understand that they aren't alone in their feelings, worries and questions when it comes to sex.
Although you can't watch your teen during every minute of his day, keeping an eye on him can help to prevent him from engaging in sexual behaviors. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy suggests that parents monitor their teens through supervision, setting curfews and establishing expected behaviors. Additionally, set rules for in-home behaviors and having romantic partners over. For example, tell your son that he can't invite his girlfriend into his bedroom or bring her into a room with a closed door.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sexual Risk Behavior
- KidsHealth: About Birth Control, Abstinence
- State of New Jersey Department of Health: New Jersey Teen Prevention Education Program
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Middle School Program May Help Teens Delay Sexual Behaviors
- The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy: Ten Tips for Parents
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