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Prevent teen pregnancy day

May 2nd, 2007

Dr Petra

Today’s the national day for preventing teen pregnancy (although some might argue every day ought to be a day for preventing teen pregnancy). You can test your sexual knowledge with their quiz and there are discussion pages for parents and teens.

The event comes after a recent report suggesting abstinence only programmes in the US haven’t been successful. However other recent research on global sex education suggests that information programmes should be tailored to suit individual’s needs.

There are many views on teen pregnancy. Some believe that teens shouldn’t be having sex at all, and those who do and fall pregnant are culpable. Others feel that education should prevent early sexual debut, whilst still more feel that providing contraception and access to termination of pregnancy should be easily available for teens. Some parents worry if you teach about sex or provide contraception then you’ll encourage sex, whilst other evidence indicates if you discourage sex or don’t discuss it then young people will have sex and be less likely to use contraception. Obviously it’s an area that is both worrying for health reasons and is a very emotional issue.

Obviously for health reasons as well as financial and emotional ones it’s best for us to help teens avoid getting pregnant. Yet we must ensure that such campaigns and educational interventions do not become an exercise in young mother blaming, stigmatising those from ethnic minorities or low-income backrounds, or ignoring the roles and responsibilities of teen boys. All too often the focus on teen pregnancy marginalizes and blames girls and fails to acknowledge the positive side to teen motherhood or good role models young mums can be. As an example of more positive parenting photographer Veronique Rolland has taken some wonderful pictures of teen mums with their babies (click on the baby pictures after entering her site to see all the images).

A useful site addressing teen sex issues is the Coalition for Positive Sexuality that has information on sex in both English and Spanish. Teens can also get support and information from RU Thinking and parents can get advice from Parentline Plus.

We do need to tackle issues of teen pregnancy, particularly in countries or communities where girls are in a more disadvantaged position. Providing sex education, access to contraception and also to termination of pregnancy are all other ways we can reduce teen pregnancy – whilst providing support and advice to those girls who do decide that they will keep their babies.

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