Today is National Day To Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
And then there is Bristol Palin making the rounds of the morning talk shows. I missed her on GMA, where she said, "abstinence in the only way that you can effectively 100% full proof way to prevent pregnancy." Apparently not in her case.
But, I did see her on the Today Show, where her father called her pregnancy "a mistake." And Bristol appeared to take back her early comment that abstinence wasn't realistic for all teens. She repeated her 100% abstinence message, and when pressed by Matt Lauer, both she and her dad gave a quick nod to safer sex being a good idea if a teen isn't abstinent.
She was poised, articulate, and it was clear that she had been carefully coached, with the adult message, "don't have sex, but if you must, protect yourself." Her message that being a teen mom is hard rang true -- her message, don't have sex like I did, was not. How much more impact she might have if she told her story honestly and directly -- and if she had used what is clearly a national pulpit being offered her to call for parents to talk to their teens, comprehensive sexuality education, and contraceptive services for teens.
As I said at our Congressional briefing last week, there is 40 years of research on how to prevent teenage pregnancies and scores of countries that do it better than we do. Helping young people to delay sexual intercourse until they are physically, emotionally and spiritually ready is key -- but so is providing young people with the information, services, and skills they need to protect themselves if and when they do have sex.
Bristol, if you really want to help prevent teen pregnancies in the U.S. -- and I believe you do -- maybe leave Dad at home and talk from your heart about how teens can make good decisions -- about sex and about protection.