Despite stigmas, teen pregnancy happens across the board. This means it can happen to women regardless of economic status, location, race, religion, or many other factors. Teen childbearing costs more than $18 million each year in Montana. Teens are exposed to more and more information these days with modern television, music, and the media. Now is a good time to make sure they know the facts about teen pregnancy.

Teen pregnancy is a sensitive topic. Jill Baker, the Director of Education for Planned Parenthood Montana, says National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month provides a great opportunity to begin long term conversations about sexuality. She says teen pregnancy can be perceived as controversial because it acknowledges sexual activity of young people.

Baker says whether you think it’s appropriate for teens to have sex or not, the reality is about 30 percent of high school students are sexually active. That number hasn’t changed in many years. Baker says a safe and open environment for teens to ask questions is crucial otherwise teens will not feel comfortable talking about sex. There are also plenty of other less reliable resources out there such as peers. Baker says when Planned Parenthood has talked to pregnant girls at very young ages such as 13 or 14 year olds, these girls say nobody told me I could get pregnant. Its instances like these that show how important education about teen pregnancy is.

Montana teen pregnancy rates are better than national rates, but compared to Canada and some European countries the statistics are still disappointing. While 3 in 10 young women get pregnant before age 20 nationally, it’s 2 in 10 in Montana. Baker adds she still thinks that number is way too high.

Baker’s hope is to raise awareness about teen pregnancy. She says it’s important to start conversations early, provide factual information, and continue the conversation through the years.

According to Baker, 97 percent of Planned Parenthood services are prevention based. Services include exams, tests, and educational materials.

Some tips for talking to your teen about teen pregnancy include

*   Be honest

*   Show interest without demanding intimate details

*   Be supportive and open-minded

*   Take advantage of natural opportunities to talk such as watching TV and ask for your teen’s opinion

*   Be clear about your sexual values and attitudes

For more resources or educational materials on teen pregnancy prevention, contact Planned Parenthood 717-234-2468

*information from KFBB.com