Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to talk to teens about what healthy and positive relationships look like
Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy offers tips on how to discuss positive knowledge and behaviors related to sex
*2021 Update: Please note that The Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy’s website has moved to amplifytulsa.org.
Love is in the air, and everyone, young and old, is thinking about love and relationships. The days and weeks surrounding Valentine’s Day provide the perfect opportunity to talk about relationships with your teens.
New data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that Oklahoma ranks second highest in birth rates among 15-19 year olds. The Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy sees the issue as a growing concern that affects multiple aspects of the community, including high school graduation rates, college attendance, workforce development, family stability and economic health. It is not easy for parents and adults to discuss love, sex and relationships with teens, but there is no better time than Valentine’s Day when love and dating is on every young person’s mind. With the right resources, any adult can tackle this conversation and make a difference in the life of a teen.
“We want teens in our community to have positive experiences with love and dating,” said Kim Schutz, executive director of the Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “It’s time to talk about the issue of teen pregnancy and empower parents to have conversations with the young people in their life. These teens are the future of Oklahoma.”
Experts in education and health agree that to positively impact knowledge, attitudes and behaviors related to sex, teens need ongoing conversations and trusting connections with the adults in their lives. With the excitement and thrill of Valentine’s Day, teens may feel pressure from peers and potential dating partners to make sexual decisions that they may regret later. Teens need to understand that dating should be enjoyable and they should never have to succumb to pressure to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Talking to young people about love, sex and relationships, while difficult, makes a significant and positive difference. The Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is offering the following tips to start the conversation this Valentine’s Day:
Don’t assume your child will feel comfortable enough to come to you with questions. Begin the conversation yourself and start sooner rather than later. It’s better to discuss pressures that may come along with Valentine’s Day before the teen in your life actually goes on a date this February. Remember that it’s okay to talk about the positive aspects of dating and to communicate your family’s values regarding relationships.
Show interest without needing all details.
Teens crave privacy and want to know that you trust and care for them. Listen carefully to show you want to be involved in their lives.
Talk about peer pressure and partner pressures.
Find out what your teen’s friends and classmates think about love, dating and sex. Let your teen know it is okay to say no to a date, and it is always acceptable to say no to behaviors that are more physical than they feel comfortable with.
Most children only want small bits of information at any one time, especially about heavy topics like sex, love and relationships. Moments in everyday life are a perfect chance to begin talking. Television shows and commercials are a great way to spark a conversation about teen pregnancy, peer pressure or relationships. Your teen will not learn everything from a single discussion, so be sure to keep the conversation going even after Valentine’s Day.
“Teenagers are put in many situations they may not be prepared for and this happens even more often around times like Valentine’s Day or high school prom,” Schutz said. “Evidence has shown that if teens consider high risk behaviors prior to situations that prompt these behaviors, they may make better decisions.”
Teen pregnancy costs an estimated $190 million annually in Oklahoma and $38 million in Tulsa.
More information and resources can be found at the Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy website at www.PreventTeenPregnancyOK.org
About the Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
The mission of the Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is to improve the health and economic well-being of individuals and the City of Tulsa by preventing teen pregnancy. With the aim to lower the high teen birth rate in Tulsa and across Oklahoma, the Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is focused on raising awareness, as well as educating and garnering community support to reduce teen pregnancy. For more information about the Campaign and how you can make a difference in our community, please visit www.PreventTeenPregnancyOK.org