Parent-Child Communication Key to Reducing Teen Pregnancy Rate

Did you know that the majority of young people don’t learn about sex from their teachers and parents, but instead, learn about sex from their peers, the internet, and other social media? This is probably not surprising to the vast majority of people, and often media and the internet can be utilized for good (just check out some of the sex education websites we cited in a previous blogpost),but, according to the writers of Managing the Media Monster, “television, music, movies, magazines, the Internet, and other kinds of media are not always healthy sex educators, however, because in the media sex rarely occurs inside loving, long-term relationships, and potentially negative outcomes or contraceptives are almost never discussed or depicted.”

Sex education in the hands of the media and the internet can have its benefits, but TeenNow believes it’s time that parents take back their role as a main educator of sexual health for their own children; research shows that parents who talk to their children have a much greater impact on their behavior than parents who do not. TeenNow California is proud to introduce Parents as First Teachers as a first step in opening communication between parents and their children.

Parents as First Teachers is a new training that will soon be implemented in select cities across California that trains parents on how to speak effectively and comfortably with their children about sexual health. Parents as First Teachers is dedicated to building and supporting open communication between parents and their children about sexuality and growing up.

There are two trainings in this project, one dedicated towards children from age 5-9 and another dedicated to children ages 10-15. The training for younger children is focused on a variety of issues including how to answer questions about where babies come from, what information young children need to know to protect themselves from abuse, and how to begin setting the stage to be an approachable parent. The training for older children and teens addresses sex and growing up, teen sex, STDs and birth control, and internet safety. This training helps parents answer teens’ questions, provides accurate information, and gives parents lesson plans and materials they can use with their children at home. Both sets of trainings include lectures and interactive activities, including skill-building exercises like role play and scenario examination. TeenNow is in the process of translating these trainings into Spanish, and we are hoping to translate them into more languages in the near future.

These trainings are soon going to be implemented in schools during the evenings to parents. Our goal is to enhance the capability of parents to discuss sex accurately with their children while feeling comfortable.

Don’t you think it’s time that parents take back their role as the main educator of their children? If you believe that it’s important that we lower the teen pregnancy rate and facilitate open communication between children and their parents, then support TeenNow. You can support our Parents as First Teachers program by emailing; request Parents as First Teachers at your school, get more information, or donate money towards the project. You can donate by visiting our Cause page on Facebook, or going to our website and donating through our main page, just specify that you want the funds to go towards the Parents As First Teachers project.

Together we can all reduce the teen pregnancy rate and change the way children and teenagers view sex! Donate to TeenNow’s Parents as First Teachers project today!

Advocacy Update for the CCG RFA Issues

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Advocacy conference call this afternoon. As a result of the call, we have developed the following strategies:

1. November 18th, THIS THURSDAY, we have scheduled a call-in day. If you or your stakeholders (clients, youth, parents, community members, agency staff) are being impacted by the restrictive language in the CCG Request for Applications, please call or e-mail:
* Your legislators
* The Office of Family Planning
* The Department of Public Health Services
* Your champions in the community who might be able to influence the above-mentioned decision-makers

We have created some talking points  for you to use on your calls. In addition, you can view the letter  that we sent to legislators to gain their support.

2. In addition to calling stakeholders on the 18th, we’re asking you to send letters to legislators and others, and to get your champions involved! A champion can be anyone who stands firmly behind your program, be it a young person who receives program services, a parent whose child has benefitted from your program, a community leader who understands the impact that losing these programs will have on the community, or a local government official. We will draft template letters for you to use—but remember that you should always personalize them as much as possible to really get your message across! Some people who might write compelling letters for you include:

* A young person who is currently being served in an MSSA that you can no longer cover as a result of the RFA’s restrictions
* A collaborative member who has benefitted from the strong partnerships that you have built through CCG, which may now be dismantled because of the narrow restrictions of the RFA
* A community member who understands that the loss of your program in his or her community will bring higher teen birth rates, lower academic achievement, and higher school drop-out rates.

Template materials will be available on our website within the next two days.

3. We need to find out how many MSSAs that are currently being served by your agencies will no longer be served because you can’t write enough applications. Complete our very brief survey  to help us get this information. In addition, if you participate in a regional collaborative, please forward this link and all information to all your collaborative members for them to participate.

4. If you wish to be included on our CCG Advocacy list serve, please send e-mail to And, keep checking back on this blog for updates and new materials.

Sex Education Websites For Teens

As part of our E-Blast, we recently wrote about websites that offer teens virtual sex education. So what role will the internet play in teaching kids and teenagers about sex? Well, the answer to that question is still unclear, but there are many websites out there that teenagers are visiting to get information and advice on sex and contraception. Some of these websites are a great way for teens to learn more about sex in the privacy of their own homes, while others might not be giving teenagers the most accurate information that they need. Browse through these “sex education” websites and tell us your opinion on sex education in the virtual world, and which websites have the most to offer for today’s youth. Also, are there any informative websites out there that we missed? Let us know! – This website claims to be “Sex Education By Teens, For Teens!” and includes a “Get Tested” section, “FAQs,” “Sex Terms,” and “Forums.” – One of the most popular sex education websites for teens, it includes information on birth control, safer sex, STDs, and sexual orientation and identification. – Contains information on birth control, STDs and a “Find a Clinic” section. – Supposed to be about teenagers’ love life, but includes sections like “The Bitchy Girl Moves Guys Hate” and “Flirty Text Message Ideas!”  Their health section includes “Get your Best Butt” and “Keke Palmer’s Dance Move Workout.” – A website by the Foundation for Adolescent Development, a Filipino non-governmental organization. It includes a blog, chat-a-friend feature, forum and chatrooms, and academic papers on sexuality, health, and adolescence. – Now endorsed by Reproductive Health (RH) advocates, this website, developed by Singaporean national Dr. Wei Siang Yu, is an interactive online education site that provides live chats, webinars, and information about reproductive and sexuality health concerns for young people. – Their “Sex + Relationships + Friendships” category of their blog include entries about not making boys your priority and an advice column about a teen whose friends wanted her to lose her virginity. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much information about contraception or safe sex for the teens reading this website. – The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s website for teens was recently updated to include more features, information, and videos specifically for teens.


European Sex Attitudes Versus American Sex Attitudes

We all know European countries have a different take on sex education, and that many European countries also have some of the lowest teen pregnancy rates. The US, on the other hand, has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. According to the California Department of Heath, the California teen birth rate in 2008 was 35.2 for every 1,000 females; for Hispanic teens it was 56.9; and for African American teens it was 39.9. Although the teen birth rate in California has been declining, compare with 37.1 per 1,000 females in 2007, teen pregnancy still remains a public health challenge, especially for teens from ethnic minority groups who still have extremely high teen birth rates. The amount of sexually transmitted infections among American teens is also phenomenal, with nine million new cases of STIs among 15 to 24-year-old youth and more than five thousand new HIV infections among 13-to 24-year-old youth.

Contrast these high rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections with that of Germany, France, and the Netherlands. The United States’ teen pregnancy rate is over eight times that of the Netherlands, over four times that of Germany, and over three and a half times that of France. The percentage of the United States’ adolescent and adult population that has been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS is six times greater than in Germany, three times greater than in the Netherlands, and one and a half times greater than in France. Meanwhile, young people in the United States are significantly less likely to use contraception than youth in these European nations.

Why do some European countries have such a lower teen pregnancy rate than the United States? Well, of course this isn’t an easy answer, but the 3Rs program by Advocates for Youth is an intelligent look at the differences between our sex education and sexuality practices, and that of other European countries, and also offers solutions on how American sex education could become more like the European model. To get an understanding though of how differently our two cultures treat sexuality, especially among teens, all one needs to do is take a look at our different advertisements for condoms.

For My Health German AdMen In Fire US Ad

The first ad is a German ad which says “For My Health,” the second, a US advertisement for condoms with a wrapper that states “Don’t be Stupid.” These advertisements show a clear juxtaposition between Germany’s stance towards condom use, that it’s healthy and comparable to eating an apple a day, and the US’s, which uses fear tactics to reach US teens.

Don't Get Screwed American AdGift of Love Ad



Here is another German ad which states, “Give the gift of love,” contrasted with a US ad which says, “If you’re going to have sex, don’t get screwed.” The US ad does not say anything about love, respect, or pleasure; instead, it again relies on fear to get its message across.

Trojan Ad

Not all US ads take such a fear-based stance, here is a Trojan ad where all the men without condoms are portrayed as pigs, and the one man with the condom “evolves” into a hunk of a man who gets the girl. Originally though, this ad, in commercial form, was banned from some television channel.

The differences between Europeans’ attitudes towards sex and Americans can be clearly seen in these advertisements. But the hard part is, how do we instill a more progressive view of sex and sexuality into American youth, when we have a history of consistently negative views toward sex and fear-based approaches towards contraceptive use?

Pictures provided from: