But kids make their own choices. According to data from the Childs Trend DataBank, In 2007, 20 percent of high school freshmen questioned in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated that they were sexually active; among high school seniors, that number jumped to 53 percent.
So while it may be a shock, I guess it's not much of a surprise that parents are trying to figure out how far to go to protect their children. It's clear that abstinence-only sex education isn't working, but is buying birth control for your teenager a better option? With a nod to the user who posted a similar question over at Shine, I threw the issue open to the readers of Boston.com's Child Caring blog:
My friend Ilona at Mid-Century Modern Moms wrote about a situation a good friend of hers found herself in, regarding her 15-year-old daughter: A pregnancy scare.
Research suggests that teens who participate in abstinence-only sex education programs or make so-called “purity pledges” promising to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have sex as teens who don’t -- and are less likely to take precautions when they do have sex.
According to the study, which appeared in the January 2009 issue of Pediatrics,
virginity pledges are also now used to measure the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education programs, which the US government considers successful based on the number of people who pledge, regardless of the participants’ sexual behavior.
But just five years after promising to stay chaste, the study found that 82 percent denied having even made the pledge at all, and the age at which they first had sex was the same as those who hadn't taken the pledge. In fact, the biggest difference between the pledgers and nonpledgers was that "pledgers are less likely to protect themselves from pregnancy and disease before marriage." And then what?
In 2006 there were 41.9 births for every 1,000 US teens ages 15 to 19 -- more than three times the rate in Canada, where there were 13.3 births per thousand teenagers (and they think their sex-ed programs aren't working).
In Parenting Milestone We Could All Live Without," Ilona points out that some people would rush to judgment -- “Pregnancy scare? Doesn't that take away her ‘Good Mother’ card?” -- and even her friend wondered what she had done wrong. "She didn't go wrong," Ilona points out. "In fact, I was impressed. ... How many of us could be sure that at a similar time of crisis, our children would feel safe to come to us? That they would avail themselves of the wisdom and experience in a mid-century parental head? How many of us, instead, would find out after even more damage was done?”
It's one of the things that stresses me out the most about parenting our oldest daughters, who are 15 and 13 (and, frankly, gorgeous).
Would you buy birthcontrol for your teenager? Would you be more likely to do so for your son than your daughter? Or do you think abstinence-only education is the way to go?