Today marks the 10th anniversary of the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. This day’s message is straightforward: Sex has consequences.
The U.S. has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and teen births in the western industrialized world, and teen pregnancy costs the U.S. at least $7 billion annually. Additionally, just under one-third of all girls in the U.S. will get pregnant while they are teens. Other statistics:
- Every year, around 750,000 teenagers will get pregnant.
- Babies of teen mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and at a low birth weight than children of older mothers.
- Unmarried teenagers having children account for 24 percent of all unmarried, expectant mothers.
- More than two-thirds of all teens who have a baby will not graduate from high school.
- Children of teen mothers are more likely to repeat grades, are less likely to complete high school and have lower performance on standardized tests than children born to older mothers.
- The sons of teen mothers are twice as likely to end up incarcerated than boys born to older mothers.
Although teen pregnancy rates have gone down since the early 1990s, we still have a ways to go. Here are four ways you can help prevent teen pregnancy:
- Be sure the youth in your life know how to prevent pregnancy. A lot of parents wait until it’s too late to start this very important conversation. Be proactive– don’t procrastinate.
- Talk to them about your values and views. According to a study done by International Communications Research, 35 percent of teens say parents have the most influence regarding their dating relationships, more than the influence of the media, friends, religious leaders and boyfriends/girlfriends.
- Encourage them to make smart choices. Talk early and regularly about future plans, like college and career goals, so they understand how an unplanned pregnancy can eliminate or postpone their plans.
- Teach them about the consequences. Make sure young people know the facts about love, sex and pregnancy. Knowledge is truly power.
For more information, tips and resources, check out The National Campaign website.