Are parents an untapped resource in the fight against teen pregnancy, STDs?
In spite of Americas declining ranking in categories from credit rating to educational excellence, the western democracy has managed to maintain one top position in the world. According to data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, the United States has the highest rate of teenaged pregnancy in the developed world. Yet the controversy surrounding which sexual education curriculum - emphasizing abstinence or comprehensive sex ed - should be mandatory in school remains. As the controversy rages on about how much if any sex education should be a mandatory part of the school curriculum, an alternative venue for youth sex education is being overlooked - their parents. The home - where children learn many of lifes lessons and values from their parents- may also be one of the best places for them to learn about their reproductive health as well. More knowledge is necessary to make better decisions. Currently, Blacks between the ages of 13 to 24, make up 56 percent of new HIV cases and nearly half of 14 to 19 year old Black girls are infected with sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, herpes or HPV, according to the CDC. Addtionally, according to Planned Parenthood, teens who have had good conversations with their parents about sex are more likely to delay sexual activity, have fewer partners and use condoms and other contraceptives when they do have sex. Elder Johnny Bell, the pastor of the Family Life Ministry at New Birth Baptist Church, gave an emphatic yes when he was asked if parents should teach their children about sex. If you dont and they get in a jam [get pregnant or get an sexually transmitted disease] and if you ask them whos fault it is, the kids can say that my momma and daddy didnt tell me anything., said Bell. Parents, sex and their children One of the biggest questions for many parents is at what age and how much information should be divulged to their children. According to Jeffrey P. Brosco, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miamis Miller School of Medicine, Kids of all ages have questions about sex [and] depending on the childs age, they probably just want a simple direct answer. For Rev. Barbara Boyce of Family Life Worship Center the age to begin more in-depth discussions about sex and sexuality with youth is 13. So, she established a mentoring program for girls, ages 13 to 21. In addition to teaching them various life skills, the program also provides sex education. She explained, At 13, their bodies start to say things and they have [sexual] desires and we want to start explaining to the girls what their bodies are going through, but we direct them according to word of God about how to control themselves. Meanwhile, Brosco encouraged parents to see any questions as a learning opportunity. The advantage is that when parents do talk to their kids about sex then they can share their values and influence their kids views about sex, he explained. If parents are still too embarrassed to discuss the topic with their children, using books or taking their children to discuss sex with the family doctor are also options. Talking about sex with their child is not something a parent should have to do themselves but it is something that they should take responsibility for, Brosco explained. By Kaila Heardkheard@miamitimesonline.com