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Parents: worried about sending simplistic messages about sex to teens? Then don't.

margaret asks:

My 15 year old son has a first girlfriend who is a year older. My concern is that she lives with her dad only and quite often is home alone. My son has been there twice already and one time I made him leave because the dad was not home. I am besides myself about how to handle this. He said that he is not going to have sex with her but you know how that goes. I know what I was doing at 15. Do I make condoms available? But that would be condoning it. I will have a talk with the girl about not hanging at her house. They are always welcome at mine and I will try to speak to her dad about it.

The Truth Behind the Trope: Understanding the Realities of Teen Parenthood and Teen Pregnancy Prevention

What do we know about teen parents? Take a moment to make a mental list (or, if you’re motivated to get out a pen and paper, I won’t stop you) of all the facts and statistics you’ve heard.

In case you’re coming up short, I’ll give you a few:

  • Most teen parents drop out of high school.
  • Only 2% of teen parents will graduate from college by age 30.
  • Many teen parents will end up on welfare, costing tax payers billions of dollars nationwide.
  • The children of teen parents are more likely to fail a grade in school. Their sons are more likely to go to jail. Their daughters are more likely to become teen mothers themselves.
  • The relationships of teen parents almost always fail, leaving teen mothers to be single parents.

You can read more here or here or here or watch any episode of 16 and Pregnant that features Dr. Drew. He’ll usually cover most of these points before the hour is up – while interviewing young people who are actually parenting.

Beyond these “facts”, we hear plenty of othe

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So, About That Video...

I tried several times to leave a comment at the National Campaign's blog on this, but alas, it wouldn't let me. I'm pretty savvy with web forms, so it's probably just some kind of temporary technical snag over there. Since it wouldn't let me do so there, I'm doing it here.

After hearing complaints about the video at sex::tech from audience members at one of my own panels, a video I had not seen myself, then getting an email the following morning with some of those complaints CC'd to me, I had a private conversation with Larry Swiader, in his role there as a representative of the NC, about the reactions the video got (which I did look at before our conversation, and was not a fan of myself). This was a conversation where I was primarily trying to help support someone new in the field facing an intense swell of reactivity, however valid. I know how challenging working in sex education can be, especially when you're new to it, and I also know how overwhelming it can be to face en-mass

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You should wait for sex, but if you can't....

This is one of a long line of common phrases in sex education and sexuality messaging people, including people I think of us allies, use that I deeply dislike, like "preventing teen pregnancy." Let me explain why, working backwards.

"You should wait for sex, but if you can't..."

That's usually followed by "then you should have sex using safer sex and contraception." Or -- and usually addressing both those things -- "then you should at least be responsible."

In some respect, that's fine. Now, not everyone needs contraception, either because they don't have a partner with a radically different reproductive system than them or they're not having the kinds of sex that can create a pregnancy, so that doesn't always make sense. But for people choosing to have any kind of sex, we're 100% on board with the sentiment that all of us -- no matter our age -- should be engaging in sexual practices supportive of safeguarding everyone's best health, and in alignment with whether we do or don't want

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