Roughly one in four teen girls become pregnant at least once by age 20 and fully half of all pregnancies in the United States are reported by women themselves as unplanned. Not too good.

By posting some intemperate thoughts about sex, love, relationships, pregnancy, childbearing, the media, public policy, our dogs, and other topics, we hope to spark a two-way discussion about how best to bring down the high rates of teen and unplanned pregnancy in this country. And who knows…from time to time, we might even offer up a few cogent thoughts that will be helpful.

Latest Post

20-Somethings, Contraception, Education, Relationships, Stay Teen, Teen Pregnancy, Unplanned Pregnancy
April 29, 2016

Post by Madeleine Lowe, National campaign public policy intern
 

They say you should never talk about two topics on a first date: religion and politics. But for me, they are often some of the first to come up—right after “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” The latter often spurs a discussion of topics related to where I work (namely policies about sex and unintended pregnancy), which inevitably lands somewhere near those two forbidden fruits.

On one of my more recent first dates, I explained where I work and expressed how much I love talking about the subject. My date was a little surprised and told me he thought most people felt the opposite. As I opened my mouth to disagree, I simultaneously realized he was probably right. I’ve never lived in places where the majority had any sort of reluctance to a reasonable discussion about sex—but it happens all the time.

This seems fairly antithetical in light of how pervasive sex is in American culture. It infiltrates just about every facet of day-to-day life. It’s obvious in entertainment media where scantily clad women on CD covers, movie posters, and magazines help gross high profits. It dominates advertising and even professional journalism, continuing to prove the perennial phrase “sex sells.” It adorns sports in which attractive women seem to accessorize fields and courts to please a predominantly male audience. And it even somehow gets associated with the food we eat.

On perhaps a more serious level, sex is related to our education system (how do we teach our youth about it?), our various cultures (how do we talk about sex?), and of course, religion and politics. The latter two offer a platform for some of the more divisive and heated arguments over what is a truly natural phenomenon. All of this isn’t meant to downplay the seriousness of sex or its many potential consequences, but to highlight its ubiquitous presence in not only our personal lives, but also our public ones.

Above all, sex is an almost universal human experience. No matter how different cultural, political, and religious views may be, every human on earth has been affected by sex--either through their own personal experience or through the stories shared by others.

So what happens when, as my date astutely pointed out, we don’t talk about sex?

Often, the conversation is hijacked by the media instead of being guided by parents and trusted teachers. Quality information about a subject so taboo and stigmatized in a non-glorifying way is hard to come by. But research shows that 87 percent of young people believe it would be easier to delay having sex and “avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open and honest conversations about these topics with their parents.”

Young people get conflicting, sometimes inaccurate or hard to digest information about sex from numerous sources—and sometimes their accuracy or reliability can be difficult for a young person to discern. The crowded landscape of potentially questionable sources can lead to uninformed, yet sexually active people who may experience unplanned pregnancy, STIs, and a lack of healthy communication.

If only we were more open as a society to talking about sex, we’d likely save a lot of people from making potentially unsafe or unhealthy decisions due purely to a lack of knowledge. Neither the polarized conversations around the issue nor the superficial coverage of sex in our everyday media and popular culture are a substitute for common, non-stigmatized, and informative discussions about sex.

So I pose to the readers this question: How will you bring up substantive and meaningful conversations about sex in your everyday life? Feel free to leave your response in the comments below.
 

Other Recent Posts

April 21, 2016
Authored by: Kate Meroski

Kate is the Manager of Teen Engagement within the Digital Department at The National Campaign. She is the web editor and content manager for the Campaign’s teen and corporate web properties (StayTeen.org and TheNationalCampaign.org), as well as their associated social media accounts.  She is also responsible for managing the Campaign’s youth initiative work, including the National Youth Leadership Team and the DC (District of Columbia) Teen Advisory Board.   

Kate holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from The George Washington University. 

Last week, our incredible Youth Leadership Team came to Washington, D.C. to advocate for continuing federal funding to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.  Check out the awesome photos and tweets of youth advocacy at work! [View the story "YLT Hill April 2016" on Storify]
Federal Funding, Stay Teen, Teen Pregnancy, Teens
April 15, 2016
Authored by: Lawrence Swiader

Lawrence Swiader has spent his career studying the intersection of technology, media, education, and how it can better people’s lives.  Currently, as VP of Digital Media at The National Campaign he oversees all aspects of The National Campaign’s digital presence.  Previously, he used technology as a tool to teach about the history of the Holocaust and to motivate people to act to end contemporary genocide.

In his second home of Athens, Greece, he has consulted on various projects for clients including the Athens Metro and museums of Greek history.  Lawrence graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in 1989 with a degree in Television, Radio, and Film and in 1993 earned a Master’s degree in Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation from Syracuse University’s School of Education.

Lawrence has a 14-year-old daughter and finds inspiration from playing tennis, sea kayaking in Greece, art, and a good book.

On April 6-7, 2016 30 people representing the 10 winning Innovation Next Awards teams convened in San Francisco at the renowned global design company IDEO's location for two days of workshops. The workshops included learning in the areas of performing research, gaining insights from that research,...
Federal Funding, Teen Pregnancy, Unplanned Pregnancy
April 11, 2016
Authored by: Jessica Sheets Pika

Jessica Sheets Pika is the Director of Communications at The National Campaign.  In that capacity, Jessica drives the communications strategy for the Campaign by curating, writing, and editing content; managing consultants and content contributors; and developing new activities and content areas for the organization.  She is the organization’s editor and manages the creation and publication of all Campaign materials.   In addition, Jessica manages the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy/Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, a national, digital call to action encouraging teens to think about how their lives might change if they were to become pregnant. Jessica also handles press initiatives, spearheads the design and creation of new National Campaign materials, and provides general communications and editorial guidance to all program areas of the Campaign.

Jessica joined The National Campaign in 2006 and has nearly 15 years of experience in the non-profit health care world.  She received a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Political Science from Wake Forest University and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, her adorable children, and their dog, Cora.

Mark your calendars! On Wednesday, May 4, we will be celebrating the 15th annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. We know that your time is valuable, so we'd like to share the easiest, simplest, quickest way that you can share your support and make your voice heard this year.Whether you have...
Contraception, Education, National Day, Parents, State and Local, Stay Teen, Teen Pregnancy, Teens