St. Lawrence Health Initiative launches new website to help teens avoid pregnancy
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - 6:24 am

Teens HELP, the newest project of the St. Lawrence Health Initiative, has just launched a website on teens and teen pregnancy, www.slcteenshelp.org.

Teens “Helping Each other reach Life’s Potential” (HELP) is a project aimed at helping teens communicate with each other and with the adults in their lives.

About 140 students across the county are now learning ways to reduce their risk as part of a 17-week program. Recently, Teen Leaders contributed to a media campaign and are a resource to parents and teens they see every day.

All adults can do something to support teens in making healthy decisions, according to HELP’s Rachael Towne. Three things that help a young person avoid teen pregnancy, Towne says, are setting goals for early adulthood, being valued as a community member, and having a trusted adult they can talk to about sexuality.

Not all adults feel comfortable talking to teens about sexuality, but everyone can talk to a teen about goals and community value. HELP asks that adults pick three teens and try to encourage them by asking a question or making a compliment. For instance:

• How’s school going this year?

• What’s your plan after high school?

• You’re always so friendly when I see you.

• That was nice of you to hold the door open for that family.

Sometimes we wonder what kind of relationships our teens have with their friends and in their romantic lives. Parents of young children will be concerned about their future relationships.

When children see behaviors from the adults in the household, they tend to behave in the same way.

Among other suggestions from the Health Initiative:

Some ways to model a happy, healthy relationship:

• Be affectionate with a partner

• Have fun with your partner and family

• Do things together

• Don’t fight or argue with a partner in front of children.

The more people think about and practice acting in a positive way with a partner, the more natural it becomes.

To communicate effectively with a teen:

• Explain some experiences

• Ask questions about their lives

• Ask how they feel about their friendly or romantic relationships

• Spend time with them

Talking about sex with teens is important because parents should know what teens have heard. Lots of myths are spread and it’s important to discuss them. Teens need to know what types of behaviors and safety precautions are expected from them.

If teens are going to be successful in a romantic relationship, the Health Initiative suggests, they should know what to expect with a partner sexually. Teens should be encouraged to talk with a potential partner about sex first.

Parents might suggest a teen go on a group date with several of male and female friends.

Parents might make a list of rules on dating and discuss it, listening to their arguments --they’re sure to come up with some -- but make sure they know the parent is the decision maker.

Another option is to sit down and make a list of rules together. Some ideas are at www.eduguid.org.

HELP believes adults can support teens in lots of ways, such as donating a pizza or CD to HELP website raffles to encourage a teen or parent to register, or letting a teen visit a workplace to learn about a career, helping them plan a community event.

Adults are encouraged to visit the new website www.slcteenshelp.org, particularly the sections for parents or professionals by clicking a bubble at the right of the logo. After creating an account, there is a page for entering points codes found on TV ads, radio spots and more. Entering DECNCNEWS will earn 10 points to an account; 100 points qualifies an account holder for the December raffle.

For more info, or to share ideas, contact [email protected] or [email protected].