Although our name says “teen pregnancy prevention”, we spend an awful amount of time thinking about overall sexual health. April, it turns out, is a pretty big month for sexual health awareness!
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
When people try to connect child abuse and teen pregnancy, they often fall back on the myth of the terrible teen parent and assume – falsely – that young parents are destined to be bad parents. Really, the connection works the other way: Most young people who become sexually active before age 15 report that their earliest sexual experiences were nonconsensual, often in the form of child sexual abuse. We also know that young people who experience high numbers of adverse childhood experiences become sexually active at a younger age than their peers who had safe, nurturing childhoods – and that early sexual activity can correlate with lower contraceptive use and relationships with an unhealthy age gap. Learn more about how to raise awareness.
April is STD Awareness Month
Helping young people understand, prevent, and treat sexually transmitted diseases pretty clearly falls in the sexual health wheelhouse. In fact, many of the evidence-based programs that help young people avoid an unplanned pregnancy were originally designed to help people avoid HIV. The overlap between preventing STD transmission and unplanned pregnancy has another intersection: the health care system. When pediatricians, OB/GYNs, and other clinicians take a patient’s sexual health history – something they should do at every visit, according to best practices in adolescent care – they have the ability to talk about a patient’s birth control needs, their need for any screening, and potential risks. Similarly, when we normalize seeking sexual health care, we make it easier for young people to prevent both unplanned pregnancy and STDs. Learn more about how to raise awareness.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
There are so intersections between sexual assault and pregnancy, from the obvious (pregnancy resulting from an assault) to the more complex (polyvictimization of young parents). There are also big overlaps in prevention. Young people need education and practice to develop a healthy respect for others and boundaries, the ability to grant and understand consent, strong communication skills, and a network of supportive sexual health resources. Likewise, we need to address cultural trends that diminish sexual health in our communities: rape culture, toxic gender stereotypes, harassment and bullying, and stigma around sex and sexual health. Learn more about how to raise awareness.
So, April may not be named Sexual Health Awareness Month, but we’re happy to see so many working to raise awareness for individual components of sexual health. We also hope you’ll gear up for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month in May.
If you feel a little over-aware, take a minute to celebrate National Humor Month.