Parents… Start Talking About It

We’ve all heard the depressing statistics about sexual activity and unprotected sex among youth today. The question is, “What can we do about it?” According to this article below…

“Start talking.”

I love it. It’s been great seeing various media sources talk about the positive results of parents talking to their kids about real issues. (Not to mention other reports of kids actually enjoying time spent with family)

I’m referring to an article in my own Sacramento Bee yesterday titled Teens and Sex: Can We Talk? The article reveals some recent California statistics about how many kids are having sex, and what parents can do about it. (If you think California is vastly different– be sure to check out the national stats from the Center for Disease Control… I think you’ll be surprised).

Here’s just a snippet:

Children are engaging in sex at younger ages than in the past, experts say, and research indicates that about 40 percent to 50 percent of 15- and 16-year-olds in California are having sex.

Combine that with a steady increase in sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers and a rising teen birth rate, and you have a growing need for parents to educate their children.

“Comprehensive sex education really makes a difference,” said Dr. Glennah Trochet, Sacramento County’s public health officer. “People always think teens aren’t influenced by their parents, but studies show that what their parents tell them, especially if they are very clear, really does influence young people.”

Sacramento County has essentially had an epidemic of chlamydia and gonorrhea among 15-to-24-year-olds for the past nine years, she said.

About one of every 25 females and one of every 80 males ages 15 to 19 in Sacramento County had a reported case of chlamydia or gonorrhea in 2008, according to the state Department of Public Health. And those are only the reported cases, said Trochet, who explained that people may go for years without knowing they have a disease.

Sacramento County ranked fourth and third in rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea, respectively, among California counties last year.

“Young people are having unprotected sex, and we need to do a better job of sex education and maybe getting kids to delay sexual activity,” Trochet said.

Birth rates among 15-to-19-year-olds also rose to 38.8 per 1,000 in Sacramento County last year, up from 37 per 1,000 in 2006, mirroring a national trend.

Given those statistics, what’s a parent to do?

Start talking.

That’s good advice. I teach a parenting workshop again this weekend… and that’s really a big part of the advice I give parents. Get into their world (that means learning about youth culture), dialogue with them (I share how to do that here), build a relationship with them, and begin building lasting values.

(ht to Lori- thanks for the article baby!)

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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2 Responses to Parents… Start Talking About It

  1. Parent says:

    So what do we do with parents who are content with sticking their heads in the sand and praying that their kids will stay as “pure” as they think they are.

  2. Good question… although we should be careful about being too accusative… we probably all have our “heads in the sand” about something.

    I think a great way to help “oblivious” parents is by continuing to teach awareness. Our ministry provides several tools to do this, not only this blog, but our weekly Youth Culture Window page- it’s the first thing people see when they log onto TheSource4YM.com … the article in the big magnifying glass. These kinds of articles bring to light some of the pressures and temptations our kids are experiencing. It’s difficult to ignore consistant communication about these issues.

    In my parenting seminars I always spend the first half just educating parents about the influences our kids are absorbing, including reports on how those influences effect our kids. I’ve never had a parent walk out of one of my seminars simply shrugging their shoulders and saying, “So what.” (usually just the opposite- so I usually have to coach parents not to OVER-REACT).

    At that point I segue into “how to” build relationships with our kids and dialogue about the real issues they are facing.

    We need to constantly teach awareness as well as encouraging this kind of dialogue.

    Hope that helps just a bit.