Let's Talk Month Empowers Parents
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health invites parents and caregivers to take part in Let’s Talk Month this October. This annual campaign empowers parents to take advantage of teachable moments every day to talk with their families about healthy relationships.
“It’s important for parents to talk with their children about relationships, sexuality and preventing teen pregnancy. Teens consistently say parents – not peers, not partners and not pop culture most influence their decisions about sex,” said TDH Deputy Commissioner for Population Health Michael Warren, MD, MPH, FAAP. “Let’s Talk Month helps parents feel more confident when talking about these topics, and encourages youth to feel comfortable bringing up these subjects with their parents.”
Parents are the best sexuality educators for their children. Let’s Talk Month recognizes parents want to be good educators, but not everyone is always comfortable or sure how to best approach these important conversations when the opportunities arise. The campaign is designed to help parents be more confident and better understand how to be a resource and wise counselor for their children even when the topic is tough.
“Let’s Talk Month equips parents with facts, advice and tips to help them grow more comfortable in talking about challenging topics like sexual activity,” said TDH Assistant Commissioner for Family Health and Wellness Morgan McDonald, MD. “Watching a TV show, experiencing the birth of a child or hearing a song with suggestive lyrics are all moments parents and their children can use to reinforce the family’s values and to discuss sexuality.”
Tennessee is moving in the right direction in the important area of reducing teen pregnancies. Tennessee’s birth rates for teens aged 15 – 19 have steadily declined from 48.8 per 1,000 teens in 2007 to 22.3 per 1,000 in 2015. Strategies to provide educational programs for youth and parents and quality family planning services focused on preventing teen and unplanned pregnancies in Tennessee have contributed to this improvement.
“Tennessee should be proud of its teens, families and communities for the positive choices they are making,” said TDH Assistant Director of Reproductive and Women’s Health Kimothy Warren, MS, MCHES. “Age-appropriate conversations about healthy relationships should begin with both boys and girls early in a child's life and continue through young adulthood.”
The Tennessee Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program works to prevent unplanned adolescent pregnancies through a comprehensive, community-wide, collaborative effort that promotes abstinence, self-respect, parent/child communication, constructive life options and responsible decision-making about sexuality, healthy relationships and the future. Focus areas include implementing a wide variety of evidence-based abstinence education programs; increasing high school graduation rates; reducing rates of repeat pregnancies and improving and fostering self-sufficiency. These programs help teenagers develop protective factors to avoid teen pregnancy and childbirth such as knowledge of sexual issues, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; knowledge of pregnancy including methods of prevention; personal values about healthy relationships and abstinence; perception of peer norms and dating behavior and communication with parents or other adults about contraception.
Find information on teen pregnancy prevention programs and TDH services at the following links:
TDH Tennessee Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program http://tn.gov/health/topic/MCH-TAPPP
National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy https://thenationalcampaign.org/why-it-matters/teen-pregnancy
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Parent and Guardian Resources www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/parent-guardian-resources/index.htm