How can we get teens to pay attention and realize that teen pregnancy is a serious issue? Recently, when I brought up teen pregnancy with my teen friends and mentoree couples–they laughed!
I wanted to direct my parent reader’s attention to the issues/myths/frightening opinions my teens have (and I had when I was in High School just five years ago).
There is this weird thing for teens, many parents are familiar with it, but I remember this feeling of ‘un-touchable’ vividly and it only started to dissipate my Sophomore year of College. We really feel like the bad things that happen to celebrities, friends and other people will never, ever happen to us.
This is like the feeling of being immune, but in a way many of the teens mentioned teen pregnancy just feels so far out of their realm. They feel like they are removed from the issues even though they seem them on TV and hear them being talked about in health class.
Once I finally get them to realize that they are neither removed nor immune from teen pregnancy, then it comes up that they think it would be ok, they would just get an abortion/give it up for adoption/etc/etc. I was horrified that they were so unruffled by the thought of accidental pregnancy. They could not see the huge consequences of their actions and figured it was easily handleable.
I also remember thinking that even though I was immune/removed from these kinds of things, it was still considered pretty normal. Seemingly contradictory, but the teen couples I spoke with felt the same way. There was not nearly as much ‘shameful feelings’ as many adults would worry about. The recent celebrity pregnancies have really made this issue worse.
Girls especially do not seem to realize that this is a very emotionally charged issue–for religious reasons, familial reasons, relationship reasons. I talked with these teens about how it would feel for the boyfriend, for their dad, for the school principle, for a baby that was given up. And for the girls who seemed to think that adoption and abortion were easy issues, we had to really explore what it would feel like to give up a baby before they started to understand the depth of the issue.
Challenge Them to Explore These Misconceptions
I am a huge supporter of StayTeen.org, a teen-focused web site produced by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy that deals with issues like sex, love, and relationships and how to handle the difficult choices each topic brings.
So, I was really excited to see that they are having a StayTV video contest that encourages teens to create and upload a video that shows their concept of healthy relationships…the video simply needs to depict what the term “relationship” means to the person submitting it in 15-30 seconds. The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2008 and first prize is $500.
If you have a budding actor or future director at home, give them the chance to turn their talents into prize money…Also this is a great way to engage your kids in this talk and allow them to explore their own feelings instead of having a lecture.