Monday, May 4, 2009

How To Prevent Teen Pregnancy...

It's not often that I listen to that radio out here. If it's not shock jocks who spout extremist points of view, it's tough to hold my attention. The morning DJ's in Houston are pretty "G" rated. But this morning an interesting topic was brought up on the Tom Joyner show; teen pregnancy. They stated some pretty interesting statistics. Over 50% of African American girls become pregnant before the age of 20 in the US. Although that's not a shocking still blows me away.

I saw it a lot more in Oakland and Brooklyn...young girls pushing strollers. I wanted to tell myself that they had kid-siblings like me, and that they were taking the child off their parent's hands for the day. Or that they were just a really awesome and young nanny who watched kids for extra money. But I'm not that naive. I know that's some bullshit.

The fact of the matter is, black fathers are absent. Product, maybe of vicious cycles...young parents and the collapse of the American Family. Like the strongest of natural instincts, young girls will find their father...even if it's in the arms of a young boy. Young girls who didn't have much family structure growing up...will create one of their own..even if their not ready for it. People think that preventing teen pregnancy is by talking to young kids about sex and the responsibilities of parenthood that they are no doubt unprepared for. I think it's in educating the parents.
I think when kids start high school, parents should as well in a way. I think they should be offered classes (on weekends or one night a month...) or given literature to read that is very honest and open about how to deal with their little developing adult. Teach them about the new technologies that their kids now have access to (Myspace, Facebook, Twitter...etc.) and about the new pressures faced with their child's individual generation. Assuming that there is "nothing new under the sun.." has definitely become a notion of the past. What I faced as a teen was VERY different than what my mother faced and VERY different than what my child will face, and learning to respect that instead of dismiss it is step one.

I think a new approach to teenage sex needs to be taken. I think it's OK to allow your child to make that decision for themselves. If your daughter wants to have sex, she is GOING to do it, even if you walk her to school and home every day and lock her in her room at night. Telling her that you support her decision, explaining birth control, doctor check ups, hygiene and risks associated with a sexually active lifestyle will prove that you trust her, respect her and that having sex is in no way a "rebellion" in your eyes. Knowing that your parent's are backing your decision, makes that decision feel real and less like some power statement of individuality. I think taking the taboo out of teen sex, is taking away some of the appeal.

Taking the appeal out of sexuality in a more public sense might help as well....regulating TV shows and advertisements so that they don't show teens or adults playing teens in a sexually explicit light ( 90210, Gossip Girl..etc). And I know this might be controversial...but hello...maybe not giving pregnant teens a FULL RIDE through college just for getting knocked up...might be a deterrent. Unless a woman has been impregnated through rape, she made the decision to lay down and consent to adult sex...she should have to deal with the adult consequences just the same as everyone else. I'm tired of being ass out just because I didn't have a baby in high one pays my bills for me.

Bottom lines is, something needs to change. Scaring kids out of doing drugs and having sex is obviously not working. Being honest, respectful and educated are the only real tools society has.