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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Opinion

Guest column: Latino community needs to open the dialogue on sexual health


Jane Fonda once said, “If adolescent pregnancy prevention is to become a priority, then our strategy, as advocates, must contain two key elements: civic engagement and education.”

Parents attempt to shield their children by not educating them about the realities of the world. They can be so overwhelmed with the daily functions of caring for their children that they neglect to teach and guide them.

This reality includes the consequences of being sexually active and having unprotected sex at an early age. One of these consequences is high pregnancy rates for teens, particularly those within the Latin community.

If parents took the time to engage civically and communicate with their children about intercourse and contraception, fewer unwanted teenage pregnancies would occur.

When it comes to teenage pregnancy, most parents take no responsibility for the role they play in their children’s misguided actions. They are completely oblivious to the real factors that contribute to the problem.

Within the Hispanic community, the high rates of teenage pregnancy can be vastly attributed to a cultural disconnect. The cultural disconnect is primarily because of the language barrier between the parent and their child.

Another factor includes the assimilation of the child, but the separation of the parent, into American culture.

While Americans are more likely to communicate with their children about sex and its repercussions, the Hispanic community abstains from such comments and conversations almost in its entirety.

Statistics regarding teen pregnancies within the Hispanic community are of great concern, for studies show that more than half (53 percent) of Latinas in the United States become pregnant at least once before age 20.

In addition, studies revealed that the rate of teen pregnancy for Latina and Hispanic teens is double that of their non-Hispanic counterparts.

Furthermore, studies show that parts of the country, specifically the southern states, typically have higher birth rates than northern states.

Therefore, it is of absolute importance to address this issue as promptly and as effectively as possible; otherwise, such numbers will continue to increase at a rapid pace.

In an attempt to reduce teenage pregnancies within the Hispanic community, culturally competent interventions should be implemented.

These interventions should be culturally sensitive to the values and social experiences of the Hispanic community.  It should also consider the level of assimilation of the parent and teenager into the American culture.

Such culturally competent interventions should also be bilingual in order to provide an effective intervention for both the parent and child.

In most circumstances, communication is lacking between the mother and child.

Therefore, it would be important to consider implementing workshops for parents as well. Such workshops should empower the parents by providing them with the statistics of teenage pregnancies in the Hispanic community and how their own teenagers could become part of the statistics if they do not take action.

In addition to the statistical information, parents should be provided with workshops that guide them on how to have an effective conversation about sex with their teenagers. Parents should also be realistic when talking to their teen about sex.

Abstinence should be encouraged, but it is important to also discuss the proper use of contraceptives if they are or plan to become sexually active.

As a nation, we should be concerned about the high numbers of teenage pregnancies, especially those within the Hispanic community.

Our youth deserve to be informed and encouraged to seek help when they have questions or need clarifications.

Parents should be empowered to have the answers to such questions, but most importantly, parents should address the use of contraceptives with their children and stop erroneously believing that their child is not sexually active.

Diana Munoz is a social work graduate student and may be reached at [email protected]

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