The New Mexico Department of Health is participating in national “Let’s Talk Month,” a campaign emphasizing the importance of young people and the adults they trust talking about sexual health.
“The goal of Let’s Talk Month is to encourage young New Mexicans to enjoy their teen years and avoid the responsibilities that come with teen pregnancy and parenting,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary, Retta Ward, MPH. “A growing amount of research makes it very clear: teens want to have positive conversations with their parents about sex and this is an essential part of parental involvement that makes it more likely that teens will delay sex, have fewer partners, and use birth control when they do have sex.”
Birth rates for teenagers are declining both in New Mexico and the United States, but the New Mexico birth rate among females ages 15 to 19 remains higher than the national birth rate.
Adult-teen communication is one of the effective strategies that the NM Department of Health recommends for teen pregnancy prevention. Often, parents and other adults feel uncomfortable discussing sexual health. These programs give adults information and skills to communicate effectively with young people. Statistics show that teens consistently say that parents—not peers, not partners, not popular culture— most influence their decisions about sex.
The Department of Health made national headlines last month when it became the second state in the country to launch the BrdzNBz text messaging service. A teen or parent texts a question and a trained educator responds within 24 hours with an average time of 6 to 8 hours. Teens text “NMTeen” to 66746 and parents text “NMParent” to 66746. Through the text line parents receive recommendations on ways they can increase their skills in talking to their teen about sexual health.
“BrdsNBz is a great tool for teens and parents to get accurate sexual health information,” said Susan Lovett, Director of the Department of Health’s Family Planning Program. “We encourage parents and teens to talk with each other about sexual health and that parents communicate their values to help their child develop responsible attitudes and healthy behaviors.”