||National Campaign to
Prevent Teen Pregnancy
|April 30, 1998
TEENS ON LOVE, SEX, AND RELATIONSHIPS:
TIPS, AND POLLING DATA
Teen Winners of
National Public Service Campaign Contest Also
Press Conference and Public Forum
Thursday, April 30 - 12:30pm
1302 Longworth House Office Building, Capitol
April 30 Teenagers want to hear from their
parents about sex, love, and relationships. And parents
have far greater influence on their childrens
sexual decision-making than they might think. These are
just two of the findings of new research and
polling data released today at a Capitol Hill
press conference by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen
Pregnancy. The National Campaign also released ten
practical tips for parents to help their children
avoid teen pregnancy.
"At a time when the daily news makes parents feel
increasingly out of controlfearful that they have
lost the battle for their childrens hearts and
minds to peers and popular cultureit is vital for
parents to know that their children want to hear from
them and that they can make a real difference," said
Sarah Brown, Director of the National Campaign.
In recognition of its first anniversaryand to
kick off Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month in Maythe
National Campaign released new research, resources, and
polling data at a Capitol Hill press conference and
public forum hosted by the Campaigns House Advisory
Panel Co-Chairs, Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Mike Castle
Some of the Research Findings
Over two decades of research was reviewed for the
National Campaign by Brent C. Miller, Ph.D., Utah State
University. Some of his findings in Families Matter: A
Research Synthesis of Family Influences on Adolescent
- Familiesand particularly parentsare
an important influence on whether their teenagers
become pregnant or cause a pregnancy.
- Teens who are close to their parents are more
likely to remain sexually abstinent, postpone
intercourse, have fewer partners, and to use
- Strong parental attitudes and values disapproving
of adolescent sexual intercourse and
pregnancyor about the dangers of
unprotected intercourse are related to
lower adolescent pregnancy risk.
- Parental supervision and regulation is also
related to lower adolescent pregnancy risk. Teens
whose parents closely supervise them are more
likely to be older when they first have sexual
intercourse, to have fewer partners, and to use
contraception. However, some studies indicate
that very strict parental monitoring by
parents is associated with greater risk of
teen pregnancy, suggesting that less intrusive
supervision may be more effective.
- Of course, all these things taken
parental supervision, and parents attitudes
and values about teen sexhave important
interactive effects on reducing teen pregnancy
risk. For instance, parent/child communication
about sex is much more likely to reduce
adolescent pregnancy risk when parents and
children have close relationships and when
parents disapprove of teen sex.
Some of the Polling Findings
A public opinion poll of teens and parents of teens
was conducted in April for the National Campaign by the
International Communications Research polling firm. Some
of its findings include:
- Well over half of teens and parents of teens
agree they are not comfortable discussing sex
with each other.
- Almost one-fourth of parents (24 percent) say the
biggest barrier to effective communication
between parents and teens about sex is that parents
are not comfortable talking to their kids about
sex. Interestingly, only 17 percent of teens feel
that is the biggest barrier.
- Nearly one in three parents of teens says that
the biggest barrier to effective communication
between parents and teens about sex is that most
teens "think they know it all already."
- Teens and parents of teens disagree on when
steady, one-on-one dating should begin.
- Teens say they want to hear from their parents
about more than just "body parts." A
clear plurality of teens say they want their
parents to talk to them about a wide variety of
issuesfrom contraception to dating, from
sexually transmitted diseases to knowing how and
when to say "no" to sex.
Tips for Parents
Having reviewed research about parental influences on
childrens sexual behavior and consulted with many
experts, including teens and parents themselves, the
National Campaign offers "ten tips" for parents
to help their children avoid teen pregnancy. In
abbreviated form, these tips are:
- Be clear about your own sexual values and
attitudescommunicating with your children
about sex, love, and relationships is often more
successful when you are certain in your own mind
about these issues.
- Talk with your children early and often about
sex, and be specific! Initiate the conversation
and make sure it is a dialogue, not a monologue.
- Supervise and monitor your children by
establishing rules, curfews, and standards of
expected behavior, preferably through an open
process of family discussion.
- Know your childrens friends and their
families; welcome your childrens friends
into your home and talk to them openly.
- Discourage early, frequent, and steady dating.
Group activities among young people are fine, but
allowing teens to begin steady, one-on-one dating
much before age 16 can lead to trouble.
- Take a strong stand against your daughter dating
a boy significantly older than she is, and
dont allow your son to develop an intense
relationship with a girl much younger than he is.
The power difference between younger girls and
older boys or men can lead girls into risky
- Help your teenagers to have options for the
future that are more attractive than early
pregnancy and parenthood. Help them set
meaningful goals for the future, talk to them
about what it takes to make future plans come
true, and help them reach their goals.
- School failure is often the first sign of
trouble; let your kids know that you value
- Be media literateknow what your kids are
watching, reading, and listening to. Remember,
you can always turn the TV off, cancel
subscriptions, and place certain movies off
limits. You may not be able to fully control what
your children see and hear, but you can certainly
make your views known.
- These first nine tips work best when they are
part of strong, close relationships with your
children that are built from an early age.
Express love and affection clearly and often,
listen carefully to what your children say, spend
time with your children engaged in activities
that they like, be supportive and interested in
what interests them, and help them build
self-esteem. Remember, its never too late
to improve a relationship with a child or
Additional Items Released
The following items were also released:
- Selected new data from the National Longitudinal
Study on Adolescent Healththe largest
survey on adolescent health ever
conductedon what mothers say they
actually do with their kids in the area of
communication about sexuality and related issues.
- Focus group research on what parents and
other adults think about the issue of teen
pregnancy and how to reduce it.
- A brief description of several programs around
the country that are increasing the
involvement of parents and adults in preventing
Also announced at the event were the teen winners of a
national public service campaign contest to raise
awareness about teen pregnancy. The contest is part of
"The More You Know About Teen Pregnancy"
campaign, a unique partnership among NBC, the Kaiser
Family Foundation, the Ad Council, and the National
Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, that is working to
reduce teen pregnancy. Close to 1,000 entries were
submitted by teens in grades 7 to 12 during the
three-month contest period. Entries were reviewed and
scored by a panel of judges that included educators,
reproductive health experts, teen counselors, advertising
professionals, and teens.
The students who took the two grand prizes were: Julie
Biewerts and Jessica Belha, 8th graders at Riverdale
Middle School in Port Byron, Illinois, and Lena Ann
Beavin, an 11th grader at Franklin County High School in
Press Conference Participants
Press conference and public forum participants
- Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Rep. Mike Castle
- National Campaign Chairman, Thomas Kean, former
governor of New Jersey and President, Drew
- Isabel Sawhill, President of the National
Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
- Sarah Brown, Director of the National Campaign to
Prevent Teen Pregnancy
- Brent C. Miller, Ph.D., author of Families
Matter: A Research Synthesis of Family Influences
on Adolescent Pregnancy
- Robert Blum, M.D., Ph.D., principal researcher,
National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health
- Rosalyn Weinman, Ph.D., Executive Vice President,
Broadcast Standards and Content Policy, NBC
- Felicia H. Stewart, M.D., Director of
Reproductive Health Programs, the Kaiser Family
- Teen winners of "The More You Know About
Teen Pregnancy Prevention" contest
For More Information
For more information, contact Bill Albert,
Communications Manager of the National Campaign to
Prevent Teen Pregnancy at 202-857-8591.
DHHS Secretary Donna Shalala Recognizes
National Campaign Honorees in Separate Ceremony
In a ceremony earlier in the day, U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala
recognized the eight 1998 National Campaign honorees, a
group whose work embodies the National Campaigns
diverse approach to preventing teen pregnancy. A complete
list of honorees is included elsewhere in this packet.
About the National Campaign to Prevent Teen
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy,
founded in 1996, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan initiative
supported almost entirely by private donations. The
Campaigns mission is to prevent teen pregnancy by
supporting values and stimulating actions that are
consistent with a pregnancy-free adolescence, and its
goal is to reduce the teen pregnancy rate by one-third by
The Campaigns strategy has five primary
components: taking a strong stand against teen pregnancy
and attracting new and powerful voices to this issue;
enlisting the help of the media; supporting and
stimulating state and local action; leading a national
discussion about the role of religion, culture, and
public values in an effort build common ground; and
making sure that everyones efforts are based on the
best facts and research available.