Teen pregnancy rate is on the upswing again

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Parent involvement can prevent new youth parenthood

By Theresa Howard

It’s a touchy subject, but the discussion is warranted. With teen pregnancy arguably on the rise again, adults have no choice but to consider talking about this growing dilemma. The quintessential solution remains the same – parent involvement.

Positive parent-teen relationships, being aware of what is going on in a child’s life, knowing a child’s friends and monitoring who they hang around, all linked to delayed sex among teens, according to findings in a recent research brief. The brief, Parents Matter: The Role of Parents in Teens’ Decisions about Sex, explores how parenting practices that occur before adolescence influence the probability of sexual intercourse by age 16. The data is based on the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor).

Among the findings: Those families with strong parent-adolescent relationships have a reduced risk of early sexual experience (particularly among teen girls).

Teen girls who reported high relationship quality with both parents were less likely to have sex at an early age, compared with girls who reported low relationship quality with both parents. This finding holds true for teen girls’ relationships with their mothers and fathers separately, but no significant association was found for teen boys.

Adolescents whose parents are more aware of whom they are with (when not at home) are less likely to have sex by age 16. For example, 22 percent of girls who reported that their parents knew “everything” about whom they were with had their first sexual experience before age 16, while 43 percent of the girls who reported their parents knew little or nothing had sex before they were 16 years of age.

To access the research brief, visit www. childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2009_ 11_11_RB_Parents&TeenSex.pdf Source: Winter 2010 edition of Youth Development Update

For more on Extension Resources, visit ces.ca.uky ­.edu/larue.