Teen Pregnancy Prevention: Dads Make a Difference
Believe it or not, parents are an important influence on their children’s decisions about sex, love, and values. Teens say they want to hear from their parents about sex and relationships, but many parents don’t believe they can make a difference in helping their kids avoid too-early pregnancy and parenthood, and their consequences. The good news is that teen pregnancy and teen birth rates are on the decline led by less sex and more contraception. That bad news is that over one-third of girls in the United States gets pregnant at least once by age 20.
Over two decades of research confirms that parents — and that includes Dads — are an important influence on whether their teenagers become pregnant or cause a pregnancy. In a variety of ways, parental behavior and the nature of parent/child relationships influence teens’ sexual activity and use of contraception. While parents cannot determine whether their children have sex, use contraception, become pregnant, or cause a pregnancy, the quality of the relationships with their children can make a real difference.
What Does the Research Say About Parental Influence?
- The overwhelming majority of research studies indicates that parent/child closeness is associated with reduced teen pregnancy risk; teens who are close to their parents are more likely to remain sexually abstinent, postpone intercourse, have fewer sexual partners, and use contraception consistently.
- Most studies show that supervision and monitoring of teens’ behavior by parents are associated with reduced pregnancy risk. Teens whose parents closely supervise them are more likely to be older when they first have sexual intercourse, to have fewer partners, and to use contraception.
Have Parents Lost Their Children to Peers and Popular Culture?
- Teens say their parents’ influence their sexual decision-making more than any other source, according to a recent national survey conducted by the National Campaign.
- When asked where they learned the most about preventing teen pregnancy, more teens said parents than friends or the media.
- When asked who is most responsible for fixing the problem of teen pregnancy, some 85 percent of adults and 63 percent of teens surveyed agree that parents are most responsible for solving this problem.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. © 2008, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
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