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How do you prevent your teenager from getting pregnant?

Despite sex being illegal under a certain age, the average age of consent across America is 16, though it varies from state to state and according to gender, teenage girls are getting pregnant at an alarming rate. America has the highest rate of teen pregnancy amongst the most developed countries in the world, including the majority of Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia and Scandinavia. About 80% of these pregnancies are unplanned, and in 2006 the rate of teenage pregnancy for girls between 15 and 19 was about 7 percent with wide variations between ethnic groups.

The fact is, teenagers are having sex, despite a focus on abstinence sex education, and parents need to acknowledge that there is a problem. Ideally, your teenager would not have sex until they were eighteen, not get pregnant until married and be sensible and abstain from sex altogether until they were old enough. It is not an ideal world, and teenagers do not always make the right decisions.

If you consider the alarming growth of alcohol consumption amongst teens and understand that many teenagers have sex when they are drunk, then the teenage pregnancy rate is part of a much larger picture. If you find out that your teenager is having sex, underage or otherwise, you have a number of choices. You can throw them out onto the streets, thus increasing their chances of going into prostitution to survive; you can ground them, yell at them, argue all the time and they may well run away from home; or you can get them help to deal with the situation.

If you suspect your teenager is indulging in promiscuous behavior they need to understand the risks they are taking and you may decide to enroll them in a program specifically aimed at therapy and counseling of promiscuous teenagers. If they have only one sexual partner and this is a steady relationship you need to find out if your teenager is being pressured to have sex. Technically it is statutory rape if your teenager is underage and their partner is not. Teenagers need to be made aware they are breaking the law, and your teenage son could be prosecuted for sleeping with his underage girlfriend, and in that case there is a strong argument for abstinence.

You need to be realistic, can you stop your teenager from having sex by talking to them or getting them counseling? If not, then at least make sure they are using contraception, however much you disapprove. The cost of unplanned pregnancy for a teenager is immense. The only way you have a chance of preventing pregnancy is if you are prepared to talk honestly to your child, and this conversation should start when they are about 11 or 12, and continue throughout their teens.

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