A few days ago, Rev. Michel Faulkner told me about a remarkable and eye-opening article about the attitudes of black teenagers towards sex. The article, “Our Teens’ Secret Sex Lives,” appears in the October issue of Essence magazine, on newsstands since September 12th.
In the article, ESSENCE senior writer Jeannine Amber interviewed dozens of young people to uncover the truth about teens and sex. Black youth report considerable pressure to have sex, according to a survey of 1,500 black youth ages 13-21 released by ESSENCE Magazine and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Of those who have had sex, 47% of those ages 13-21 (including 21% of those 13-15) say they have been pressured to go further sexually than they wanted to.
The most interesting aspect of the survey was confirmation that black teens – like all teens – say that parents are the most influential people in their lives. Half of the 13-15 year-olds say their parents’ opinions matter the most when they are deciding whether or not to have sex. The survey makes clear that young people desire to hear from their parents about relationships.
Black youth, particularly younger teens, say there is much their parents can do to help:
31% of those ages 13-21 say their parents are most influential about deciding whether or not to have sex (compared to 27% who cited partners and 5% who cited friends).
Parental influence seems to wane as youth age—47% of those ages 13-15 say their parents’ opinions matter most compared to 28% of those ages 16-18 and 17% of those ages 19-21.
The teen pregnancy rate among African-American youth has plummeted 44% since 1990 and the teen birth rate has dropped 47% since 1991. While teen pregnancy and birth rates dropped overall over the past two decades, rates among African-Americans declined less than those of any other racial or ethnic group.
The report reveals that parents can help to put an end to these troubling statistics, if they put in the effort that’s needed to educate and communicate with our children now.
The survey reveals that parental influences are the strongest chance we have at reaching younger teens (ages 13-15).
Parents must remember that their kids want to hear from you. Sixty-seven percent of teens felt if more teens were open to talking with their parents about sex, and could, there would be less teen pregnancy.
NYC parents must seize the opportunity today to tell Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott that you demand an abstinence-centered sex education curriculum available to your teenagers.
Join the NYC Parents Choice Coalition today.