How Many Teen Births Are There?
In Erie County, Pennsylvania, about 12% of live births are to teen mothers each year.
What are the Risk Factors?
Risks for Teen Pregnancy include: poor school performance, economic disadvantage, single or teen parents, sexual abuse as a child, substance use and abuse, ignorance about sexuality and reproduction, and hopelessness about the future.
What Can be Done?
As a parent you can:
- Make a thoughtful decision about what information and values you want your child to have about sexuality, then work to educate them. If you don’t do this, someone else will.
- Provide information about access to birth control, or information about abstinence support, whichever you feel is consistent with your values.
- Talk with your child about any risks you feel they have, and why you feel it is risky. For instance, you may talk with your daughter about drinking, as many sexual assaults and unplanned pregnancies happen when drinking.
- Encourage your child to think about the future, and take steps toward their vision.
- Work with your child to stay in school and to strive academically.
- Seek counseling if your child has experienced abuse, neglect, or witnessed domestic violence or other trauma.
- Improve your parenting skills and cope with your own past concerns. A counselor can help you understand how your own teen years may impact your parenting, and how to use your experiences to help you and your child.
- Ask questions about where your child is going and who they will be with, as well as what they’ll be doing. Say no when you need to.
- Remember that high risk times for teen pregnancy aren’t always obvious. Children who are home after school for a few hours are before a parent comes home are at risk for problem behaviors. Arrange to come home early sometimes, have a unannounced visitor, call and check in, or get your child involved in an afterschool activity as an alternative.
What Should I do if my Teen is Pregnant, or if my Son is a Teen Father?
- Seek medical services immediately. No matter what is decided, the sooner teen mothers see a doctor, the healthier they are. If your daughter is having the baby, her baby is more at risk and needs a lot of good prenatal care.
- Your Teens need a lot of guidance to make the right decision for themselves and their families.
- Be open about your values, without tuning out your child’s values. Remember, as teens they are becoming adults and may have very different ideas than yours. To build a lasting and trusting relationship, these differences must be respected.
- Teen fathers struggle because they do not have the same supports, resources, or decision making capabilities that teen mothers have. In fact, many teen fathers are treated as if they have no feelings about the pregnancy at all. You can offer support and a place to encourage him to explore what he thinks about it and what he’d like to do.
- If your teen children are having their baby, there are many community resources to help both of them be the best parents they can be.
Empower your child. Teens who get support when they make a hard decision with your support fair better than those who do not feel involved.