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Empowering girls helps reduce teen pregnancy

When  Oklahoma mom Shana Davis was in high school, 17 of the 35 kids in her graduating class were teen parents.

Davis, who attended the Cherokee County Teen Pregnancy Task Force this past Thursday night, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma said she did not want to become one of the 36-year-old grandmothers she saw growing up and be trapped in her county for life.

“I knew at a young age if I put myself in those risky behaviors, I’d be in that county forever,” Davis said. “I was determined to have more for myself.”

The takeaway from the session as summarized by The Tahlequahdaily Press:

When teens understand they have choices beyond high school they make better decisions when it comes to sex. Parents who talk to their children before they become pre-teens and teens, establishing a relationship of communication and understanding, seem to be a major factor in the success of a youth making good choices.

Empowering teens is one way to help reduce the epidemic of teen pregnancy.

Of course, sometimes parents want their kids educated but are not prepared to give answers.

Another attendee community nurse Rebekah Craig’s 11-year old son came home one day asking what “chlamydia” was. He had heard the term in the hall at school.

“It wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have on a Tuesday night,” Craig said. “But it was a teachable moment. So we talked about it.” Fortunately, Craig was educated in medial technology and had plenty tools.

Even though the focus was on empowering teen, the session was also  for parents who, like Davis,do not want to raise grandchildren while still relatively young themselves.

“It’s a lot of stress and energy to raise a grandchild or great-grandchild, and it effects it whole community,” another attendee, Wauneta Duvall said. “I see a lot of people doing that.”

Barbara Williams,  a preventionist with Cherokee Nation Behavorial Health said her mother didn’t tell her anything about sex, adding that her mom’s mom “didn’t tell her anything.”

In her sex-ed and teen prevention program, Williams said what the teens want to know and what their parents want to know are two different things.

She works to help parents talk to their teens with a goal to develop mature, goal-oriented teens, interested in college instead of boyfriends, burdened with babies.

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