Wednesday, May 6, 2009

National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Today, as we recognize the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy we are reminded all too well of statistics that reveal that the teen birth rate is on the rise:

  • 3 out of 10 American teens get pregnant every year
  • Less than half of these girls finish high school
  • 8 out of 10 don't marry the fathers of their babies
This morning on "Good Morning America" Bristol Palin did her first live TV interview where she advocated and promoted abstinence as the "best" choice for young women. A new teen ambassador for the Candie's Foundation, Bristol's message today is very different from comments she previously made on Fox news. that abstinence was "unrealistic." Today she says her comments were taken out of context and that she believes young women should abstain from sex regardless of what she did personally.

Personally, I disagree. I think if we are going to have any crack at reducing the escalating teen pregnancy rates we are going to have to provide teenagers with comprehensive sex education that teaches them both about abstinence and contraception. We need to power teenagers with knowledge so if and when they do decide to have sex (which many of them do) they have the tools (condoms, birth control, emergency contraception, etc) to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.

Another thing - when I saw that Bristol was a teen ambassador for the Candie's Foundation I had to look it up because I was certain it wasn't the same Candie's that sells sexy shoes to young women but alas I was wrong. It is that Candies and if you take a look at the website and you will instantly see that sex (although teens shouldn't be doing it, right?) sells! They currently have a promotion with Britney Spears - a single young unwed mother whose famous sister is a teen mom herself - where she is pictured with a bikini top and suggestive smile and nothing else. So the message is that you can dress sexy and be sexy but you shouldn't think about sex let alone have sex and if you do, well Candie's is there to tell you all about the "devastating consequences" but not to help you avoid them - nope you're on your own there.

Don't get me wrong. I think it is admirable that Candie's wants to do its part to help reduce teen pregnancy and clever that they are using a celebrity hook to talk to teens BUT while they aim to raise awareness of this serious problem, they fail to give these teens the tools to avoid the very problem - getting pregnant. Someone has too so if you have any teens in your life I suggest you take some time today to talk to them about sex and teach them how to protect themselves!