By Rachel Schindler
“You guys sound stupid,” host Tyra Banks says to a panel of expectant teen moms on today’s Tyra Show that explores the explosion of teen pregnancy in America.
While Tyra lambastes the teenagers for their destructive decisions, stemming the rise of teen pregnancy requires also addressing broader family and social factors.
Much of what has led to increased rates of teen pregnancy are decisions in which teens themselves have little, if any, influence, such as coming from a single parent family, a single mother’s dating behaviors, lack of positive family interaction, parental supervision and positive parent/child communication. If a teenager’s mother was herself a teen mom, there is a much greater likelihood of teen pregnancy.
While teens are not responsible for society’s high divorce and violent crime rates or stressful economic conditions, they are able to decide for themselves how to respond to sexual pressure from peers, when they will begin dating, and whether or not they’ll hang out with friends who are sexually active.
Parents have a role to play too. Being a good example, investing time regularly to interact, talk and listen to youngsters, making sure your children know they’re loved and valued by you, and encouraging them to set and work towards meaningful goals for their lives goes a long way to boosting the self-esteem that is vital to helping teens make responsible decisions for their own lives.
A PAIRS Foundation study found that helping teens improve communication skills, emotional understanding, and conflict resolution reduced the likelihood of behaviors that lead to teen pregnancy. For concerned parents and other significant adults in their lives, these lessons should encourage parents and others to recognize the important role they can play preventing teen pregnancy.
Rachel Schindler, a member of PAIRS Foundation’s research and grant support team, earned her BA in Psychology and Sociology. She is workin