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“Let’s Talk Month” Encourages Frank Parent-Child Dialogue

October 2, 2008

St. Paul, MN – Getting your teen to talk with you about anything can be challenging, but discussing sexuality and pregnancy can seem impossible. However, teen advocates are urging parents to have a serious conversation about those issues in October as part of Let’s Talk Month. The nationwide campaign is designed to encourage parents to talk openly with their children about sexuality.

Minnesota teen advocate Brigid Riley, executive director of the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting(MOAPPP), says the program is designed to help parents and their kids build an honest, trusting relationship regarding a sensitive issue.

"The idea is to encourage parents to take this opportunity to talk to the children in their lives about the benefits of waiting to become sexually involved, and all the things that go with that."

Parents sometimes forget how much influence they have over their children, says Riley.

"Young people tell us, over and over again, that it would be much easier for them to postpone sexual activity and avoid pregnancies if they were able to have more open and honest conversations about these topics with their parents."

Those conversations should be more than a one-time event, according to Riley, and although some parents feel uncomfortable or inadequate discussing the subject, books, schools, faith-based groups, community organizations, and the Internet are easy places to find support.

MOAPPP has reported consistent progress in reducing teen pregnancy, until recently, says Riley.

"We've seen a big decrease over the last 30 years in terms of teen pregnancy rates. Unfortunately, in the last year or two, we’ve started to see those numbers going up again."

MOAPPP has not determined the causes of the recent trend. The state Health Department reports approximately 7,000 teen pregnancies each year in Minnesota.

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Jim Wishner/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - MN