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What Parents Should Know About Teen Pregnancy

About 12 percent of all live births in Erie County each year are to teenage mothers. Risk factors for teen pregnancy include:

  • Poor school performance
  • Economic disadvantage
  • Having a single parent or being born to teen parents
  • Sexual abuse as a child
  • Substance use and abuse
  • Ignorance about sexuality and reproduction
  • Hopelessness about the future

For help with talking to your children about teen pregnancy, call SAFELine at 814-456-SAFE (7233).

Preventing Teen Pregnancy

As a parent, you can talk with your sons and daughters about teen pregnancy and how it can affect their lives and their futures. Some examples include:

  • Making thoughtful decision about what information and values you want your child to have about sexuality, then educating them. If you don't do this, someone else will.
  • Providing information about birth control or abstinence, whatever you feel is consistent with your values.
  • Identifying and talking with your child about risky behavior. For instance, you may talk with your daughter about drinking, as many sexual assaults and unplanned pregnancies happen while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Encouraging your child to think about the future and how they can work toward their vision.
  • Working with your child to help them succeed in school.
  • Seeking counseling if your child has experienced abuse, neglect, or witnessed domestic violence or other trauma.
  • Improving your parenting skills and coping with your own past concerns. A counselor can help you understand how your own teen years may impact your parenting, and how to use your experiences to help you and your child.
  • Asking questions about where your child is going and who they will be with, as well as what they'll be doing. Say no when you need to.
  • Remembering that high risk times for teen pregnancy aren’t always obvious. If your child is home alone after school for several hours, arrange to come home early sometimes, ask an unannounced visitor to stop by, call and check in with your child, or get your child involved in an after-school activity as an alternative.

What to Do if Your Teen Daughter is Pregnant, or if Your Son is the Father in a Teen Pregnancy

  • Seek medical services immediately. No matter what is decided, the teen mother and her baby need prenatal care.
  • Provide guidance to your teens to help them make the right decision for themselves and their families.
  • Be open about your values without tuning out your child's values. Remember, as teens they are becoming adults and may have very different ideas than yours. To build a lasting and trusting relationship, these differences must be respected.
  • Teen fathers struggle because they do not have the same support, resources, or decision-making capabilities that teen mothers have. In fact, many teen fathers are treated as if they have no feelings about the pregnancy at all. Offer support and encourage him to explore what he thinks about it and what he'd like to do.
  • If your daughter or son decides to raise the baby, there are many community resources to help both the mother and the father be the best parents they can.
  • Empower your child. Teens who get support from their families when they make a hard decision often have an easier time than those who do not have support.

If your teen daughter is pregnant, or if your teen son has gotten someone pregnant, call SAFELine at 814-456-SAFE (7233) if you need assistance.