Opinion

Let's stop teen pregnancy in Federal Way | Amy Johnson

Federal Way ranks fifth in King County! Great, right? Until you realize that’s the statistic for school districts in our county with the most teen pregnancies.

May 4 is the 10th annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, providing yet another fabulous opportunity to talk about sex and its consequences with teens and young adults.

Wondering where to get information? Many youth look online for their 4-1-1. What if your teen or one you know thinks teen pregnancy is for her? After all, it is portrayed relatively positively on some TV shows.

Check out StayTeen.org, where you can download discussion guides for MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” or ABC Family’s “Secret Life of the American Teenager.” Actors who portray characters on the latter show also have created some public service announcements on teen pregnancy and how it is 100 percent preventable. The key is to create teachable moments by watching and talking together.

Parents, check out www.thenationalcampaign.org for great info like “10 Tips for Parents,” and how to talk to teens about relationships. This organization did research for 15 years asking the following question to teens: If you could give your parents or other important adults advice about how to help you and your friends avoid pregnancy, what would it be? Most common answers include:

• Pay attention to us before we get in trouble

• Don’t leave us alone too much

• Talk to us about why you think sex and teen pregnancy are not good choices

• Help us be prepared, whether we are having sex or not

For information about birth control, check out www.bedsider.org, the free support network for birth control. It is endorsed by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Parents should visit the site, then sitting down with your teenage son or daughter and talking about the information on the site.

Remember, giving your teen information about prevention and protection does not make them go have sex. It does help them be prepared for whenever they eventually make that decision.

Bedsider.org provides one of the clearest, easiest-to-understand explanations of different types of birth control I’ve seen. Plus, you can sign up for text or email reminders to take your pill, change your patch or your ring, make your appointment and more. A quick entry of my zip code showed me that over-the-counter methods are available in Federal Way, not only at Public Health and Planned Parenthood, but also at Safeway on 320th Street and Top Foods. The same tool is available to find emergency contraception at a health center or over the counter.

With all the advances in contraception and education, and all the resources available, I’m starting a new cause. In terms of number of teen pregnancies in school districts, let’s work to get Federal Way to come in dead last. Won’t you join me?

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