May is Teen Pregnancy Awareness Month: What Can Each of Us Do?

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, nearly 3 in 10 girls will become pregnant before the age of 20. In 2012, 305,388 teens (ages 15-19) gave birth. About 18% of women obtaining abortions are teenagers (i.e. about 200,000) [http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html]. Due to these high numbers, many people are rightly concerned about the need for education and resources for these young women. How do we prevent teen pregnancy from happening in the first place? How do we teach teens to be responsible in their relationships so that they may make healthy decisions (for their bodies and their hearts)? How do we provide resources that will support a teen in her decision to choose life for her child? May is Teen Pregnancy Awareness Month. In May, students are encouraged to get involved in efforts to educate their peers. We encourage you to focus on abstinence education and to teach your peers the importance of mutual respect in relationships. Here are a few ideas you can do to raise awareness in your community – even beyond May: Talk to your younger family members about their relationships. Remember: This doesn’t have to be an awkward conversation! They may prefer having this conversation with you than with another adult. Start by asking, “How are you and ____ doing?” and let the conversation flow from there. Encourage them to commit to respecting themselves and their girlfriend/boyfriend. Support them in their good decisions. Offer loving advice for those who may be involved in unhealthy decisions. *Last but not least, be a good role model for your younger siblings and cousins. Educate your...

Dating Strategies

Using Strategy is a great technique to sharpen your mind for victory. Strategy is necessary when playing chess, soccer, or any game of challenge. And so it is as you enter the challenging game of dating! Here are some basic points to help you get off to a good start and to keep you in the game!! Don’t feel pressured to date. Hanging out with friends can be great fun! Date and hang our with like-minded people. Look for friends, not serious relationships. Avoid steady boyfriends/girlfriends. Always know the person you go out with! Have boundaries and stick with them.   Have planned activities and stick with them. Dress attractively, not seductively. Keep your clothes on, all the way and all the time. Never lie down with your dates. Stay out of the opposite sex bed room. Stay in groups. Don’t stay in a house without adult supervision. Set a reasonable curfew for yourself, if your parents haven’t already. Avoid movies with strong sexual content. Make sure your parents meet everyone you date. Invite your parents to join you on your dates — OK, occasionally! Always let your parents know where you are going. Avoid being alone with your date. Never use drugs or alcohol. Leave parties where drugs and alcohol are being used. Date people your own age, or near your age.       Never try to “prove your love” with physical involvement.                  (Do the Right Thing – Wait for the Ring!) If you have made past mistakes, forgive yourself. Be proud of your stand for sexual abstinence. [from “Aim for Success with the A-Team”, Aim for...

Parents: Make Teens Strong

When faced with tough choices, will your child be self-confident? Teach your tweens & teens the “5 Knows and the 5 Nos”: 5 Knows 1. Know yourself. Think about who you are, who you want to become and what you believe in. Know your family’s beliefs and values. When faced with a difficult choice, ask yourself, “Does this fit with who I want to be?” “Does this fit with my family’s values?” “Would my family want me to do this?” 2. Know the facts. Some decisions can be based on simple facts. For example, smoking is addictive and expensive, and causes serious diseases. It’s illegal to sell cigarettes to minors. Sex can also be addictive emotionally, and can lead to serious diseases such as AIDS and cancer. Having sex with minors is statutory rape. 3. Know the situation. Before going along with friends, know what your’fe getting yourself into. Where are they going? What will they do? Who will be there? When and how will you get home? 4. Know when to ask questions. If you don’t know the facts and the situation, ask questions. Make sure you get clear answers. Don’t be silent when you feel uncomfortable about what’s going on. 5. Know how to get help. Everyone needs help at times. We are not islands. Think about which responsible adults in your life you can turn to for guidance and support when you need it [parents, ministers, teachers, counselors, coaches, etc.]. Asking for help is usually a sign of strength, not weakness. 5 Nos 1. Plain and simple. “No thanks.” Sometimes the most direct way is the simplest and...

How & When to Talk to Your Tween/Teen about Risky Behaviors

One conversation with your child about risky behaviors is not enough. Introduce the subject when a child is still very young, in simple language and with clear rules. As your child grows, repeat the message in more mature terms.  Here are some suggestions to help you decide what to say, when to say it, and how. Look For OpeningsKeep it light. Nothing turns off teens and preteens (tweens) more than a lecture. Don’t do all the talking. Ask questions and truly listen to your child’s answers. Be alert for opportunities to talk with your teen. Sometimes they say things which may actually be a veiled way of wanting to talk. If your child asks for permission to go to a party, talk about the situations that might be encountered there, and how s/he would deal with the. State your own values clearly. Younger children may respond well to simple rules, but as your child grows older, s/he will be more concerned about fitting in with peers. However, your child is still listening closely to what you have to say — even if it doesn’t appear that way! Focus on short-term consequences. As adults, we know that smoking leads to life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, emphysema, and lung cancer; sexual activity can also lead to life-threatening disease such as cervical cancer, AIDS, and other life-long viral STDs. But most teens don’t worry about long-term risks.  So, you will catch their attention better if you focus on the immediate consequences of smoking — things such as bad breath, smelly clothes, yellow teeth, or poor performance in sports. For sexual risks,...