How to talk about teen pregnancy


I used to get excited when I saw a conversation in the media or public about teen pregnancy.  I always thought “Maybe someone out there will hear this and find out what they need to know” or that someone would hear / see their experiences reflected and be able to say “Yes, I get what they’re talking about”. At a push, I’d hope that people who’ve never been there would be able to walk away having learned something. Anything.

I don’t get excited anymore. In fact, to save my sanity, I tend to switch off, close the browser or walk away when the topic comes up. It’s seldom that you come across the conversation where the people involved are asking the right questions, have an understanding of who they are talking to, or what they are trying to achieve. Instead we hear about prevention (a valid conversation, but a separate one), and we hear the same statistics drawn from the same sources and very very seldom from a pregnant teenager or teen parent themselves.

We need to be more clear about what we’re trying to do.

  • Are you trying to encourage sexually active non-pregnant teens to use contraception by telling them how hard it is to be a teen mom?
  • Are you trying to tell pregnant teens what their options are?
  • What are you saying to teen parents? *Are* they included in this conversation? (If not, perhaps you could ask yourself *why* not)
  • Or are you talking to the general public and not to those affected (or potentially affected) at all?

It’s a complex conversation with many different areas to focus on. They cannot be lumped together and think that covers it. Someone out there will be missing out.  Someone looking for information, ideas on where to get help, a reason to reach out, a reason to feel brave – will not be wasting their time listening to a Minister discussing stats and condoms again.

There’s no harm in picking one at a time to discuss. But don’t neglect the others.

I think it’s a simple idea, so logical it’s laughable. Just ask – why are we talking about this? What are we trying to achieve? Who should be hearing this? And once you’ve answered those questions – you might be prompted to ask yourself why the conversation was framed in that way. (click the pic to enlarge)

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