To the Editor:
May 2 was the 2012 Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. This month is a great time for teens and adults to learn to prevent unplanned pregnancy.
Teens HELP, a project of the St. Lawrence Health Initiative, works year round to help teens, parents, educators and medical providers improve reproductive healthcare and sexuality education. Staff and peer educators from Teens HELP listen to teens and share prevention education with many teens in St. Lawrence County. Everyone can make a difference!
Teens want to talk to their parents, but most feel they can’t. Teens worry their parents will think they are sexually active if teens ask about how the human body works. Adults, please listen without judging so teens will keep talking and asking questions.
Teens want privacy. The main theme of growing up is gathering knowledge and skills to become independent. Teens are just as secretive about what they haven’t done as what they have done! Both teens and adults can find ways to build trust.
Teens want to talk to their doctor but most won’t if their parents are in the room. Pediatricians and Family Doctors should follow best practice guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics. Doctors who ask parents to step out of the room create the privacy needed to meet the needs of their patients.
Teens want to receive the confidential family planning care that NY law allows them. Medical providers, if you provide confidential reproductive health care to teens, please make that information available publicly so teens know where they can get services.
Teens will skip contraception when their concerns about confidentiality are not satisfied. Research shows that lack of available birth control has little effect on delaying sex. So teens risk pregnancy just so their parents won’t know they want family planning services. Educators and youth workers can help teens learn communication skills and how to locate family planning services.
This month, and every month, Teens HELP wants to encourage you to improve the lives of teens by reducing risks of sexual activity. We welcome invitations to speak to groups of parents, educators, medical staff, and faith communities.
Teens in St. Lawrence County are empowering themselves to reduce the risks of sexual activity. If you would like to support them call Kelly at Teens HELP 261-4760 ext 234.
Kelly Johnson-Eilola, Teens HELP Coordinator