From Our Team
Recent reports indicate that kids 14 to 17 years of age are engaging in sexual activity. Is your son or daughter having sex? Parents, if you’re not talking with your kids about dating, relationships, and sex – now is the time to start. The Paso del Norte Region, which includes El Paso County, has a high rate of teenage pregnancy and high rates of live births to teens. Studies show that 82% of teen pregnancies are unplanned and teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of school. Only about one-third obtain a high school diploma.
While discussing sexuality with your child may not be easy, it’s a parent’s responsibility. Furthermore, teens whose parents encourage an open, honest, respectful dialogue are more likely to hold off on having sex. The conversations don’t have to be complicated. Seek out opportunities to talk with your kids about healthy sexuality and positive relationships. Whether it’s a talk after watching a movie together, or just listening to the day’s experiences at school, these moments help to strengthen bonds between you and your kids. Be conscious of the type of questions they are asking.
Kids often have a unique way of really wanting to know about relationships, dating rules, and what your expectations are of them. The key is to help them understand and make good, responsible decisions. Don’t dismiss their feelings. Studies show that a common complaint from teens is that parents don’t take teen relationships seriously. And if first you don’t succeed, try again. Let them know that you’re open and available to them when they are ready.
Independent research conducted with a sample of 173 parents in El Paso County indicates that parents are concerned about the sexual health of their kids. Top concerns are sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy, and pressure to have a boy/girlfriend. The good news is that 60% of El Paso parents in this study are comfortable talking with their kids about sexuality. For the other 40%, however, discussing sexuality is uncomfortable. Most (72%) parents felt it was important to convey the notion that sexuality was natural and 66% felt that it was important to be honest and accurate with kids when talking about sexuality.
There is a variety of programs and websites available to assist parents, so talk with them often and let them know you are there to help. Build a trusting relationship, while clearly expressing your values and expectations. You are your child’s first sex educator.
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