Speaking to Kids 'Early and Often'
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has unveiled its "Parents Speak Up" national campaign to help parents talk with youth about waiting until marriage to have sex.
In addition to public service announcements (click below for "Talk to Me"), the campaign encourages grassroots involvement and offers a web site to better equip parents with age-appropriate information and communication skills.
"The 'Parents Speak Up' campaign was developed based on research that indicates youth look to their parents for guidance when it come to making decisions about sex," said Dan Schneider, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families.
"When families encourage open communication, and teens live in an environment where values are clearly expressed, they are more likely to follow those values."
Studies show that nearly nine of 10 teens say it would be easier for them to avoid sexual activity if they have more, and more open, conversations with their parents.
It's critical to address with youth the issue of waiting until marriage for sex and, to be effective, this message must be broached "early and often."
"Early" in order to reach your children before they are bombarded with contrary ideas from the culture.
"Often" to reinforce the unwavering message you want your child to receive, to affirm expectations, and to keep the lines of communication open.
FRC strongly endorses this new HHS campaign.
4Parents.gov: Talking to Your Pre-Teen or Teen About Waiting http://www.4parents.gov/talkingtoteen/index.html
PARENTS SPEAK UP
While you've probably heard a great deal about the Mathematica study that "proves" that abstinence programs don't work (never mind the fact that teen sexual activity, pregnancy, births and abortions have all dropped dramatically since abstinence until marriage education began 1993-1996), you probably missed the federal study by HHS that shows nine "comprehensive" sex ed programs were found to be medically inaccurate, mentioned abstinence only 321 times and condom use 2,763 times, and condom failure rates only 23 times!
On 21June07, Dr. John Agwunobi [HHS Assistant Secretary for Health] and Dan Schneider [HHS acting Assistant Secretary for ACF] announced the Parents Speak Up National Campaign to encourage parents to talk to their kids about sex, their values, and how delaying sexual activity until marriage can contribute to their future happiness and success.
"…parents often need additional tools when dealing with tough issues facing their children. There are few issues tougher or more important to discuss than sex." explained Dr. Agwunobi.
In addition to advertising, which includes tv, radio, print, outdoor, and interactive banners, the campaign encourages grassroots community involvement. African American, Hispanic, and Native American community Outreach Centers are in progress.
According to a 2005 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, survey, about 1 of every 3 ninth-graders has had sexual intercourse at least once.
A 2007 survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (recent name change to "National Campaign") found that 60 percent of teens who have had sexual intercourse wish they had waited.
The Parents Speak Up Campaign should be applauded for recognizing that any true education for children must come from their parents and promote the family.
HHS also unveiled the revised www.4parents.gov website, which offers parents resources to help them speak to their children about a variety of risky behaviors. [KaiserNetwork.org, Lee, Washington Post, 6/21; FRC, 21June07]
HHS Parents Speak Up Campaign: http://opa.osophs.dhhs.gov/SpeakUp_Campaign1.pdf
www.4parents.gov (watch the video commercial)
By the way, the National Campaign name change came to "focus on preventing unintended pregnancies in addition to preventing teen pregnancies". More than likely, this means they will push for "safe sex", emergency contraception including Plan B, RU486, misoprostol, and surgical abortion…
"The 'Parents Speak Up' campaign was developed based on research that indicates youth look to their parents for guidance when it comes to making decisions about sex," said Dan Schneider. "When families encourage open communcation, and teens live in an environment where values are clearly expressed, they are more likely to follow those values."