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September 23rd, 2009 by Dr. Phil

The Birth Control Debate

bControl1Hey, I want to give everyone a head’s up about the Dr. Phil show airing on Monday. We’re again featuring the Dr. Phil Family, and I will be having a very intriguing conversation with 19-year-old Katherine, the youngest daughter in the family, about sex and birth control for young girls.  It’s a conversation that I think every parent in America wants to hear, because based on recent research, I think it is representative of the mentality of many teens. I know that many parents are uncomfortable when it comes to talking to your kids about sex and birth control. And regarding birth control, the big question is: Do you offer it or not?

As a society, we seem to be pretty split over the issue of teenagers and birth control. One side believes that the only safe sex is no sex. They say if you teach kids about sex in school, a job many believe belongs exclusively to parents, that it is highly suggestive, and that if you offer birth control, you are implicitly endorsing sexual activity and giving kids permission to go out and do it.

On the other side, the proponents of teenage sex education and easy access to birth control insist that abstinence programs don’t come close to working and that it is naïve to believe parents can persuade, or even scare, their teenagers into not having sex. So, the proponents say, to keep our kids from getting pregnant or infected with a disease, they must go through a sex education program that encourages abstinence but emphasizes protected sex and proper birth control. They maintain that teens have to be equipped with the knowledge and the tools to make an intelligent decision.

bControl2I want you to watch Monday’s show and evaluate Katherine’s very candid — and I think pretty darn typical comments — and then, I want to hear what you think. Would the rate of teenage pregnancy in this country decrease if teens were taught more about birth control? Or would the opposite happen? Would sexually transmitted diseases go down, or go up? And, what would be the moral effects on our teens?

On Tuesday, after the show, I’ll put up another posting about what you wrote to me. And I’ll also let you know how I come down on the issue. See you then!

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182 Responses to “The Birth Control Debate”

  1. vince says:

    what age do you start a child off on birth controll? i saw on the news where a child just 12 years old was about to give birth from North Carolina, thats too young to be a mom i know maybe some one needs to be jailed in her case im sure.

  2. Cat says:

    Not everyone is put on birth control because they are having sex. I am a 21 year old college student and I have been on birth control since I was 15 years old. However, I am confident in saying that I have never had sex. I was put on the pill for health reasons, and can not go off of it for the same reasons. If I did not have these health problems then I would have no reason to be on them. With this being said, I know a LOT of girls at my school who have never had sex either. It is such a generalization that girls go on the pill early so they won’t get pregnant, and that EVERYONE is having sex when they are younger. It is NOT everyone. I am proud that I don’t fit that stereotype.

  3. Tina Kubala says:

    What I have read is that studies show if parents talk to their kids about sex providing both facts and moral guidance, the kids wait longer to have sex and are more likely to use protection when they do have sex.

    I have found that to be true looking at myself and close friends. Learning from my mom that sex is serious and you are only mature enough to have it when you are responsible enough to take care of your body and health made a difference in my choices.

    Knowledge and values from parents, not just school is the way to go. But that means adults have to talk to their kids, get over their discomfort with the topic.

  4. Lysa says:

    I think as a parent that we have the responsibility to talk to our kids openly about sex and birth control. I know I don’t want anybody else talking to my kids about it. I want them to know the facts. I hope they wait but at least if they don’t they will have the correct information.

  5. Jarrod says:

    Unfortunately, a lot of what is on TV perpetuates sexual imagery, but never shows the actions of being safe. While TV is a powerful influence, I believe that the people closest to us have way more influential power in how we conduct ourseselves. So I think that teens should be taught more about birth control and sexual responsibility, because if everybody else is in the responsible, safe sex mindset, it would be much harder to make a mistake.

  6. Pat Layton says:

    Would you be willing to talk about teens and abortion Dr Phil?
    It truly is an epidemic in America as an estimated 43% of women of childbearing age has an unplanned pregnancy that results in abortion.
    Thank you for exploring the explosive issue of abortion as a means of birth control for teenagers.
    Pat Layton
    “Surrendering the Secret”

  7. Kate says:

    Hi Dr. Phil my name is Kate and I am 18 years old. As a teenager in my freshmen year of college I have to say that by parents, teachers, and society telling teenagers not to have sex doesn’t make teenagers not have sex. Teenagers do and will have sex with or without birth control and permission. Especially in college since its a new kind of freedom being and living on your own. I think teenagers should be offered or told about the many different kinds of birth control that are available. I think this would eliminate the many teen pregnancies we see in society today. Still though when teenagers are in college birth control doesn’t come to mind when they are intoxicated at a party so in a sense it still may not complete eliminate teen pregnancies. Its a difficult topic but I believe the best “birth control” is an open communication with parents. When kids try hiding something it usually ends bad but when they are open to talking to their parents they seem to take more precautions and such; even though its an embarrassing and difficult topic to talk to parents about. Thats just my opinion. I am curious to hear what your take is on this topic and how you and Robin went about as parents discussing this or not discussing this with your sons when they were teenagers.

  8. Joni says:

    I am sorry but I feel that it is better to put a girl on birth control to protect her in case she does have sex. To me it is better to place them on birth control than to have to help them raise a baby or watch the pain of a difficult decision of whether to have the child, give it up for adoption or abort the pregnancy.
    I put my daughter on birth control when she was 13 due to irregular cycles. But, I am glad that I took that responsible step that has helped her since then. Teens today are going to have sex, and if the parents dont take the opportunity to help the teens, such as getting them on birth control, educating them on safe sex, the use of condoms then we are going to have an epidemic of teen pregnancies and possible sexually transmitted diseases.
    I am glad to be a parent that talked openly with not just my daughter but my son as well. I also feel it is both parents place to educate the children, not just the mom.

  9. Courtney says:

    I believe it all depends on the teen. However, I believe that parent’s should tell their teens about sex and birth control. They should also talk to their doctor about the best options, but leave it up to the teen on what they believe and what type of birth control is right for them.

  10. Kristin Abbott says:

    Knowledge is power. Kids are bombarded with sexual images for every angle. What should we do? Maybe bury our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening? That’s like the little kid playing hide n’ seek standing in plain sight with his hand over his face thinking if I can’t see them, they can’t see me? Sure no mom wants to think their child is having sex, but statistics show they are. I wish I could sat my daughter down, tell her all the reasons why waiting for sex is better and know she will listen. But she’s a teenager. Not listening is like their job. They can’t see around corners nor do they really want to.
    I have a wonderful 13yr old daughter. I have been raising her myself since we lost her dad in a car accident 8yrs ago. Our bond is so great because of what we’ve been through together. Does that mean I don’t have to still be diligent? NO. Last week she was grounded therefore I had her cell phone. I got woke up by a text at 2am. It was from a boy offering to share a picture of his penis. Seems he had taken a pic with his phone and wanted to send it to my daughter. Needless to say I wasn’t happy and I took steps to keep it from happening again. Looking back I wish I would have been monitoring it better. Who knows if this was the first picture. (Probably not)
    Long story short, we take measures to prevent bad things from happening. Why wouldn’t we put measures in place to protect our children from making a mistake that would change their lives forever?
    I don’t want the schools doing to for me and/or to my child. As her mom I want to be the one to help her navigate this tough time. So my head can’t be in the sand.

  11. Toukie says:

    I think it’s a tough call for a parent. Because, as you say, the parents are scared that if they bring it up, it will intrigue and even tempt their teenagers to have sex.

    What I also know is that even though my mom talked to me about birth control and offered to go with me to the doctor’s so I could get a prescription, whenever I was ready, I wouldn’t have been caught dead going to my mom to tell her I was ready. Because no matter how open parents are, and how close a teenager are to them, this is too personal for a parent to know. At least it is for every teenager I talked to.

    I think, whenever possible, and this is juste my opinion here, a parent SHOULD talk to their kids about birth control. About what COULD happen if they don’t use it. But, in my experience, if the teenager have someone closer to their age to talk to, someone they trustand feel comfortable with (a cousin, a big sister, anyone who is not mom and dad) they are more inclined to listen and to accept the advices. They are more inclined to be careful.

    I was the oldest girl in my family (including the cousins). I have two younger female cousins and 3 male cousins. I was the cool cousin. The one they could talk to without being embarassed. The one they could go to, and trust, to tell them what was what, without sugarcoating it or talk to them like they were still babies. They told me stuff they couldn’t or wouldn’t tell their parents. And they took my advices seriously BECAUSE I wasn’t a parent.

    I mean, let’s be honest here. In a teenager’s mind, “what do parents know? They don’t remember what it’s like to be young. They aren’t cool, even when they are trying to be. And it’s soooo cool to do the opposite of whatever mom and dad say. They can’t tell me what to do. I’ll show them!”

    Just my two cents

  12. BreesyRee says:

    I think it is a good idea to talk to your child about birth control. I have 4 kids, Already done the talk on safe sex on 2 of the 4 kids. When I was young, most girls told their boyfriends They was on the pill (they wasn’t) thinking “doing it” will keep the boyfriend, they end up pregnant and alone. Now we have date rapes to consider as well.

    I often told my brothers and nephews and oldest son, Anyone can “Say” they are on the pill, But it doesn’t keep from getting STD’s and “Accidentally” having a baby on the way. And How many times we heard “If you love me , you do it” As always MY reply ALWAYS, “No, If you LOVED me, You’d never put that on me!”. I have told my 2 oldest children, so they know how to answer the stupid, “If you LOVE ME…” question, or never use that towards another.

    My oldest is 14 and the other is 11, I too, knew someone when I was 11 years old got pregnant at the age of 11. If I can prevent something like that to happen to one of my children, you bet I will give birth control pills, condoms to stop a unwanted baby or STD. When a girl says, “No!” It actually means, NO! and respect that.
    I am not encouraging my children to have sex, But “When” they are ready to have sex, they know there won’t be a baby or an STD. I believe that educating your children and give them the respect they will wait. that is my take on this subject. Thank you Dr. Phil for asking, “The Question”.

  13. Monica says:

    For me and my family birth control is against our beliefs, not only spirtually. We believe that conception of a child is a very sacred thing and IF you are close enough to get naked with someone and swap bodily fluids, being open to making a life should also be an option. Also, after trying several kinds and getting the wierd side effects (not getting my period for 3 years!) Its not for me or our two daughters. A women’s reproductive system is too important to imbalance with checmicals. There is a very specific method to getting prenant that can be educated to anyone called Natural Family Planning. I got pregnant at 17 with my first daughter, and 18 with the second. I know how hard teen pregnancy can be. I am very fortunate that even at that ridiculously young age I had enough sense to open myself up to that possibilty with a young man who would be around. We have been together for 10 years now, married for 8 and have one of the healthiest relationships I know. All of this is NOT common, but possible. Talk to your children everyday about everything and don’t be so quick to jump on the medications doctors sell you. (No pun against Dr. Phil, you’re great!)

  14. Charnise says:

    Being a 19-Year Old myself I understand to every extent the dangers of sexually active teens not being on birth control.Yes parents should offer their sexually active daughters this method as well as others((abstience,condoms etc.)) for 1.Because if she did it once chances are she might do it again, even if you express to her otherwise.2.It lessens the chance of parents becoming “Grandparents” so soon.

    As far as schools including “Sex Ed” in the curriculm,its a great thing but parents should not consider this as an escape route.With that being said parents should mustard up the guts and sit down and express to your children the outcomes of unsafe sexual activity such as not only pregnancy but S.T.D.S and even AIDS.

    Outside our homes is the world and what parents choose not to express and address the world right off our doorsteps can and will.

  15. PJ CURRY says:

    DR PHIL

    When my only child (daughter) was 16 years old I married a wonderful man who had a 16 year old daughter and a 14 year old son. I would not marry him unless he borught the kids with him. I didn’t want to marry a man who would walk out on his own children. He wouldn’t have left them anyway.

    Back to sex and birthcontrol: I sat both my girls down and had a serious talk with them. It hasn’t been that long since I was young and had those feelings, I told them both how special they were and that no “young Punk” deserved anything from them. I ask them both to value their bodies as a gift from God and reminded them that Sex is not meant for recreation, It is a God given gift to people who really love each other.

    I did tell them that it is not the bad girls who get pregnant, they know exactly what they are going out for and they go prepared. It’s the Good girls who get pregnant most of the time. At that tender young age the hormones can override the brain very easily. I told them that if they met someone that they just absolutley couldn’t say no to and someone who deserved them and was good to them to come to me and bring him with them. I promised them that I would not judge them but I would advise them of the resposibility that comes with grown up relationships. My stepdaughter came to me first at about 18 years of age and we talked and the boy didn’t show up ofcourse. But she asked for the pill and I agreed and took her to the Dr. I also told both my girls whether or not they planned to have sex to always have a fresh condom in their purse. Never trust the young guys who may have carried the same condom around for a year or something, hoping to get lucky.

    Lot’s of my friends dis-agreed with me very strongly, but I raised two very good girls and my daughter has never had children and my stepdaughter did get pregnant when she was about 21 but she married the father of her child which she had planned to do anyway.

    I am very proud of my girls and they are both 38 years old now.
    I also had the same talk, using a little differnt dialog with my son and already with my 16 year old grandson. I just talked to them like I would have any other adult. If they plan on adult relationships they need to hear the adult point of view. Neither of us were ever embarrased with any of the converstaions. We have always been open on the subject of sex and love.

    Thanks for reading
    Pj Curry

  16. Lisa says:

    I believe that it is the parents job to discuss sex with their children. I would want to be the on to lay out the scenario because I would also emohasize our religious beliefs as to why abstinence in the best choice while a teacher simply states facts. Also children are more like to ask questions to someone they trust. My niece came home from one of these classes more confused than educated cause she didn’t want to seem dumb by asking questions. Abstainence should definitely be taught but I believe children are going to make their own decisions regardless and birth control should definitely be discussed so they will know how to protect themselves if they choose to make that decision. Overall an open line of communication is most important

  17. musicaligirl says:

    I’m a mother of 4 ages 23, 19, 17 and 7. I haven’t done much talking to the 7 y.o. yet, but my husband and I have always been very open about sex with our kids. We have told them that is best to just wait until they are married. However, we have also educated them about birth control. You have to. After all, they are only human. You can lead a horse to water… You know what I mean. Not only do you have to educate them about birth control, but you must educate them about why is is important to abstain….Diseases people! An educated individual will make better decisions.

  18. Kristin says:

    For me with my children, they will be taught about birth control. I don’t think just teaching about abstinence is working. For me, I will tell my children they should wait, but if they feel they cannot, that it will be ok for them to come to me and say so. That way I can get them on birth control and give them what they need to protect themselves. I plan on having open communication with this. I want my kids to know that they can come up to me and tell me and talk to me about this with out me hating them.

    Abstinence obviously isn’t working that well right now. I think it’s time we also teach our children about protection as well.

  19. Anthony says:

    I’ve been tweeting my comments to you as well. Didn’t want to take up too much space with those :) . I do feel that birth control conversation should be blatent as possible. Teens nowadays are well aware of what is going on today. They have seen things and are more accessible to anything involving sex, so they should made of what they are coming up against. Sex ed is something that shouldn’t be sugar-coated. In today’s existence, sex is viewed as a normality. If teens want to experiment with the experience, awareness is key.

  20. Michelle says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I plan on talking to our sons when they are older. What age is a good age? My mom never had a sex talk with me, she just said, if you get pregnant DO NOT come HOME, and she meant it. I remember having a sex education class when we were like in sixth grade we went too, and our parents had to sign permission slips. Even that class was only on the anatomy, and starting your period. Honestly, you get that in science class about the anatomy.
    BUT, I worked in a residential treatment facility for kids ages 12 to 17 years of age, and most ALL of those girls are either having babies, had babies, or having second babies. I do not get it. A baby isnt something that is going to love them back if that is what they are looking for. During my seven years of working there, I was pregnant, pretty much back to back, our sons are about thirteen months apart. Part of me for the longest time felt guilty that this could be part of my fault. But, finally after thinking on it, They have their own choices, and they made their own decisions. One girl I speak to now on an every other day basis practically she is three months pregnant, and I am a stay at home mom with our two sons, but there has to be something we can show or do to help these girls not get pregnant or have babies SO YOUNG. When the girls at this placement facility would look at my little guy if we ran into the kids out in public, they would go over and goo goo ga ga, make faces, etc.. how cute he is,, aww, i want one, every time one of those girls would say that, they immediately had an assignment from me to go back to do. How much does it cost to have a baby? I would constantly tell them, they may look cute, but theres a lot of hardwork involved, a lot of lack of sleep, there is a lot of money, and yet they mostly all of them except two ended up pregnant. I will definitely be listening to your showon Monday, it seems as though, kids do not want to be out of high school, and they want to have babies… really? where does this mentality come from?
    Thanks for all you do dr. phil,,
    michelle

  21. Susani Sacca says:

    Dear Dr Phil,

    I have 3 kids ages 23, 20, and 18.

    My two oldest who are girls have had the talk since middle school and my son had the sex talk beginning in 9th grade.

    I have had open dialoge to protect them and to educate them.

    My oldest daughter is now married and going to college, my middle daughter is engaged, and my sonny is in a long term responsible relationship and also in college and I feel very close to each of them.

    My parents never spoke to me on this subject ever.

    I am very blessed I have always had open and honest conversations with my children. Maybe sometimes I over prepared them on certain subjects and for this I have certain regrets. This is for a whole other topic though..

    Thank You,
    Susan Sacca Delaware, Ohio

  22. The education of sex, it’s beauty, and what it was created for…not just procreation but enjoyment between a husband and wife…needs to be taught to children at home by the parents, and I believe at a young age. I shared the basic biology of it with my 6 year old (now 7) and we have built upon that foundation ever since, leaving the lines of communication open. I went to a meeting where Mary Flo Ridley shared about sex education and I actually couldn’t wait to get home and talk about the once awkward topic. No, we didn’t get into mechanics or the dangers…those will come in time…but the science or biology of it is something a child can understand and that a parent can build upon with further conversations either spurred by curiosity or out of necessity. Prior to her reaching puberty we will share with our daughter the pros and cons of premarital sex, emotionally speaking, but also regarding date rape, the beauty of waiting, the risk of STD’s and sterility…and we’ll continue to trust her with the God of the Universe who made her and hope for her best!

  23. Trisha Shipman says:

    Parents need to be their child’s main teacher in sex education, not only providing the basic facts but also teaching their child about respecting and loving themselves enough to take sex seriously. Teaching their child the consequences of sex needs to be a part of the conversation as well. Keeping communication open with your child throughout their life is key to honost and less-embarrassing discussions. At the very least, teens will have the correct information they need. Parents not giving their child “the talk” may end up regretting this very important area of parenting!

  24. Jennifer says:

    I have two daughters ages 7 and almost 9 and an 11 month old son. Since my girls were very little, I have thought about which decision is the right one to make,regarding birth control vs. morals and I have pretty much concluded that based on the child and their behavior it will most likey be both. I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of talking with them about this, but I know I’t will surface pretty soon. I’m very old-fashioned about sex, and I hope that I can instill moral values in all of my children that will carry them through that kind of decision making but I also know that morals alone will not be enough. I want them to know how to protect themselves from std’s and also pregnancy, but I hope they are moral enough to choose abstinence. I’ts something I worry about constantly and I am glad you’re doing a show on this!

  25. Karen says:

    I am traditional Catholic and my husband and I do not use birthcontrol. However, we both waited until we were married ( I know it’s a shock to a lot of people). We have been married for over 10years and have 7 children. I will talk to the children about sex as they approch an appropriate age (the oldest is 9 yrs old) but I am horrified by the was society views sex. I wish we could go back 30 yrs and teach the children about respecting themselves and their bodies and maybe then we wouldn’t have this epedimic of teenage mommies. Everything is so sexuallized no adays that its hard to avoid and it’s teaching the children that sex isn’t a big deal. I think that it is a big deal, and it’s a part of giving yourself to someone you love. Children now a days, don’t have the respect for themselves and others like they ought too. I blame the media and think that some of the sexualization should be banned.

  26. Dr. Phil says:

    I am just blown away by the insight in all of your comments. Very thought provoking. I just have to do more on this. I see a show in our immediate future on this! Thanks for the discussion here. Lets keep the conversation going because I am learning from every comment and I am reading every word.

  27. Tammy Webster says:

    Hi there Dr.Phil! I am planning on watching Monday’s program twice. Once alone…basically for “screening” purposes, and once later on with (at least) my oldest child (a 14 year old boy). No offence to your show (which I LOVE by the way), but I NEVER share ANYTHING with my children without seeing what exactly they will be hearing/seeing.

    Anyhow, on to what I feel they should be taught. I have already started “the talk” with my oldest, and kinda brushed against the subject with my 10 year old (a girl). I have three children by-the-way (the third is a 9 year old boy). I use the theory that you teach them what they are asking you, but adjusted for their own maturity. I first told my oldest the basics that a HUSBAND AND WIFE have sex (I don’t recall what I called it or how I explained it but that isn’t the point right now), he later asked me “what if the husband and wife want to have sex without making a baby?” That is when I began to introduce the subject of birth control. So, he now knows that it is out there and available…I just keep emphasizing that it is a HUSBAND AND WIFE. He knows that there is pre-marital sex that goes on…but I am gently steering him away. I hope this works for him, but who knows. I guess a long story short, I teach both…with gentle emphasis that it all happens MUCH MUCH LATER ON.
    Thanks! :)

  28. Paradoxis says:

    I was in the care of the State when I was offered birth control (the pill) at the age of 15. I took it not for protection, but in order to skip my periods. That’s how I thought in those days. It was like, “great! one less thing to worry about!” The protection from pregnancy aspect didn’t even register with me. And back then, nobody even thought about the risks of diseases.

    Being on birth control continuously for 10 years might have stopped me getting pregnant, but it sure didn’t stop me getting herpes.

    In the end, I had to go off birth control VERY quickly because as I’d aged and my body had changed, there reached a point where I suddenly couldn’t take the pill because I had all the signs of impending stroke. I may actually have had a couple of mini strokes before anyone worked it out because I was so young. I was 26.

    I had never established a proper cyle before I was put on the pill because I was so young when first prescribed it. That meant that when I finally went off it, things were kind of all over the place for a long time.

    I’m telling this part of my story because it illustrates even more issues in relation to the long term consequences of teenagers and birth control. The consequences may not be as big as say, HIV/AIDS or pregnancy, but they still need to be recognised.

    Preaching abstinence simply won’t work for the majority of kids and I think we’d be fools to think it could.

    I believe that with knowledge comes power, if not wisdom. At least with knowledge we can make *informed* decisions. And then you can’t blame anyone else for the consequences of the decisions you make.

  29. Mitzi Coulter says:

    I believe that if the parent thinks the child is going to have sex, put them on birth control and the parents should teach their children about protection just as the school does.
    I grew up in a household where you didnt need protection as a teen because it went against the Bible. My husband grew up differently. I got pregnant as a teen and it wasnt until after I got pregnant that I learned how to get protection (the pill).
    We plan on being very open with our 7 yr old like my husbands parents were with him.

  30. Paradoxis says:

    It’s funny, I remember I time when birth control was a woman’s issue. When the pill became available, it was all in the hands of the woman/mother as to whether they got pregnant or not. The father’s responsibility or choice didn’t even factor in. I honestly think that this attitude has pervaded society so completely that we still blame mothers for “getting pregnant”, as if they did it alone and was the only one with choices.

    When HIV/AIDS arrived on the scene, I noticed that people spoke more about condoms. Condoms being protection not only against pregnancy, but against disease. You’d think that because it’s the male who wears the condom (just as it’s the woman who takes birth control pills) that males would take a more pro-active role as far as the consequences of intercourse goes. Apparently not.

    The fact is, all I ever hear from men EVER, is that they don’t like to wear condoms because they can’t feel as much. The pressure on women to NOT insist on condoms is unbelievable!

    When it comes to sex, pregnancy, and std’s, it’s about time society started making men more accountable and responsible. And that begins in latency – before adolescence.

  31. C.J says:

    Dear Dr. Phil

    Firstly i would like to say a big warm Hello all the way from Australia….

    I would just like to add to this issue from a professional point of view… Teen sex and birth control is a tough issue to handle,,many may think it isn’t but it is… Why? well because young people think there bullet proof and no matter how much we state the facts they are just not going to listen, they will still go out and do regardless b/c they think they know best.

    I think the most important message here is to all the young people out there who don’t listen to the experts, who choose to ignore the wide spread of media regarding STD’s… do yourselves all a favor and PRACTICE SAFER SEX.. GET THE FACTS and use a CONDOM. Not many young people know that most STI’s are asymptomatic (there are no symptoms) and some can cause serious problems to both men and women. If your going to go out and have sex Be smart about it.

  32. Jen says:

    I 100% believe that a birth control/sex talk should be present in every family that has kids, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. It could be the difference that can potentially save a life.

    I understand that teens don’t know all there is to sex and that’s why this talk is so important. More often than not, teens are going to have sex and act on their feelings. At least they can be aware what can happen if they don’t protect themselves and use birth control.

    If these kids know their parents will be upset and give them a lecture or punishment, there is a chance that they won’t use birth control in fear that their parents might find it in their possession. This way there is no chance of finding anything that can “give them away”.

    Now, on the other side of that, if these kids are given the talk where the parents could say something like “I would rather you didn’t have sex until you are married, but if you do, let’s talk about your birth control options.”, they most likely will use it and be safe knowing their parents won’t be on their backs if they get caught having sex.

    Just think about it. For all of you parents out there, how would you feel if your son/daughter came home one day and told you they had AIDS (or another STD) because they had sex and didn’t use condoms in fear you would find them?? I’m sure you would be wishing you had the talk with them.

    I know parents can’t be there to make sure they do everything right, but you can give them the information to make their own informed decisions and trust they will make the right ones. :)

  33. gay okolowicz says:

    As a guidance counselor, I have learned that as people look back on their sexual experiences, they wish they had not had them and had saved themsleves for the man/woman they married. Sounds old fashioned but there is something good to be said for abstinence.

  34. Jennifer Taylor says:

    Hi Dr. Phil!
    I was brought up in a strict family with very good morals. I have always been in Christian schools and attended at Christian college. I am now 26. I had vowed to God that I wouldn’t have sex before marriage. I was in a True Love Waits program in high school that my school promoted. I had every intention of waiting to have sex before I got married, but at some point at the age of 19 I felt that all guys had had sex. I dated guy, after guy, after guy and they all ended up cheating on me because I wouldn’t have sex with them, which was ultimately great because I could tell the scum bags from the good guys. I wanted to be with and marry someone that hadn’t had sex either. At the age of 19 I gave my virginity to a guy that had never had sex either. I felt in some weird way that we were meant to do it; we both loved each other and loved God. Now, looking back I see that 19 is still young to be having sex, however, at that time I felt so old and was proud I hadn’t had sex yet. Out of all my girlfriends I had waited the longest. To this day I wished I hadn’t had sex and would have waited until I was married, but most of the time curiosity and emotions get the best of you. I think giving young adults birth control is a great idea, because most people aren’t like me. They don’t have any intention of waiting and it’s better to be safe than sorry. My high school was not allowed to teach about Safe Sex and I believe as some sort of a result of that, my older sister got pregnant in college. She wasn’t educated about certain things that could happen. She said her boyfriend (which is now her husband) “pulled out” she didn’t understand the catastrophic results of pre-cum. It was her very first time that she had sex. It was also her boyfriend’s first time to have sex. She kept telling me it’s not fair, because all of her friends in high school had sex all the time and the one time she did it she got pregnant. She actually didn’t tell me or my parents she was pregnant until about 2 months until the baby was due. She was scared to tell my parents etc. My dad told her all you had to do was tell us and we could have gotten you the day after pill (which is also called Plan B). She is now married with two children and is doing great. However, I would highly stress that young adults are educated about every aspect of sex and safe sex. Young adults are going to have that temptation even thought they have good morals and good intentions. It’s similar to the saying “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” Don’t just teach young adults about safe sex after it’s too late, so they won’t make the same mistake twice – teach them now and teach them young. I first new about sex in the second grade; It’s not a big mystery. To this day neither one of my parents have talked to me about the “birds and the bees.” They just figured I would learn about it though friends I guess. I’m sure they were too embarrassed to talk about it. But if they would have taught us about safe sex at an early age, my sister may have not had a child at the age of 19. She is now 29, but I know she wishes if she could have done it over again, she would have either not had sex at all or would have had safe sex. She dropped out of college to have the baby and then got married. She is a stay at home mother of two now. I’m telling you, knowledge is power!

  35. lifeflows says:

    I think the only way to scare teenage girls into not having sex, is to introduce them to several single mothers, preferably ones living in homeless shelters. Beyond that, teach them right from wrong, get them involved in a church growing up, pray for them, and raise them right in the first place. I don’t think there is a sure-fire method of avoiding pregnancy, but scaring the crap out of them with reality might make a dint. As far as sex education goes, I don’t see that that should hurt, if they are raised right otherwise.

  36. KIMBERLY says:

    I BELIEVE ITS BETTER TO BE SAFE THEN SORRY..
    I HAVE 3 GIRLS WHO ONLY ARE 5,2 AND 4 MTHS BUT AS WE KNOW TIME FLYS AND IN THE FUTURE I HOPE THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE ENOUGH TO COME TO ME AND TALK ABOUT SEX AND BIRTH CONTROL.
    I BELIEVE 14 IS ABOUT THE RIGHT AGE AND ALSO BELIEVE IF YOU EXPLAIN IT RIGHT THAT THIS DOES NOT GIVE THEM A FREE PASS TO HAVE SEX ITS JUST A PRECAUTION THAT IF THEY MAKE THAT DECISION THEN AT LEAST ALONG WITH CONDEOMS THEY CAN BE PROTECTED AGAINST PREGNACY AND STDS

  37. Libby says:

    Dr Phil — This is a very important issue. I come from a dysfunctional family (my mother passed away when I was 11, had an overbearing father, and during high school lived with my 80 year old grandmother) and NOBODY talked to me about having sex, my dad assuming that my grandmother would tell me, my grandmother being of the age where that wasn’t spoken of, and of course, i was too young when my mother passed away for her to talk to me about it. The ONLY sex education I recieved was about a 2 day period in health class in the ninth grade where I learned what a condom, birth control pills, abstinence and herpes was.

    Unfortunately I did become sexually active during high school at MUCH too young of an age. Talking about sex and birth control goes beyond letting your children know about how to prevent pregnancy, and what happens when you have sex. Parents need to let their children know the EMOTIONAL ramifications of having sex at an age where you are not all emotionally mature.

    I have a wonderful husband now, and fortunately I did not have any children (not ready yet at this point in my life) but I cannot not tell you how I WISH I could take back my actions in high school, if only someone had been OPEN and CANDID with me!!

  38. Kerrie says:

    Sex Education is important both at home and at school. It is the parents’ responsibility to impart their point of view on family values and the moral implications of teen sex. That is not, nor should it be, the goal of a school health program. To say that schools should push abstinence is ridiculous, as it is never an educator’s job to tell the student what to do with his or her body. I once had a student say to me “Why do you old people always tell us what to do?” My response was: “I am not telling you what to do. I am giving you information so that you have all of the tools you need to make the decision that is right for you.” We should never assume that all parents have all of the information teens need as far as how effective different birth controls are. Nor should we assume they will be willing to take that conversation one step further to talking about STI prevention. It’s the parent’s job to make it hard for teens to engage in sexual activity at such a young age. It’s the school’s job to make sure that they know what they are getting into should they choose to be sexually active anyway.

  39. I know a lot of women (myself included) who find the pill to be the something that totally decreases/eliminates libido. (The pill also makes me very depressed and changes my personality. )So why not put all teenage girls on the pill -they’ll have less sex!! lol! Jokes aside, how does taking hormones affect a developing teens body? Will it affect them in later life? Are there studies on this?

  40. In my experience, peer pressure is one of the best ways to teach and alter behaviours, so seek out the young influencers in our schools and communities and train them to teach others about all sorts of things not just sex. Also, as self esteem affects ones decisions in life we must promote the inclusion and acceptance of everyone whoever they are and wherever they come from. Sorry I am a bit of an idealist!

  41. Ciska says:

    My Doctor gave me pills just to have my period start a few days later when I was about 11. My mom suggested it. It was convenient because I had camps with the girlscouts for a week and I didn’t want to feel like I would do having my period.

    When I was 12 or 13 I started taking birthcontrol, my mom knowing. I discussed that with her. You never know what freaks you meet and with all the rapes and stuff like that. I didn’t want to be pregnant of some rapist. The best thing I got (and still have) from birthcontrol is to know when I’m having my period or not.

    But I’m from Holland, so maybe this is no use to you guys. ‘Cause I read a lot of fear over here. We are a lot more open about sex, not everyone in Holland is to be honest, but most of us are.

    I’m 24 now and if I have kids I would do the same thing. You teach your kid to grow up and behave and not to sleep around with everyone. And in school they teach that too. I got my first lessons about sex (simplified of course) and love in the fifth grade (children between 7 and 8 yrs old). Then the questions at home about it. And we have lots of childrens books to explain (in their language) how babies get born and stuff like that. And in High school they teach you at Biology how the cycle works and what happens or could happen if you have unprotected sex (with horrible pictures of what it looks like when someone has it)

    My mom bought condoms for us (I’m one of the three daughters) and we could get one out if we needed one. And if they we’re out she would get new ones. Never did that though.

    Now I’m living together with my boyfriend for 3 yrs now (been together for 5 yrsn now) and we both took a test for sexual diseases and AIDS and now we both know it’s safe. But still we do it double dutch (as they call it), birth control and condom.

    I think if you teach your children what sex is all about, and I mean all of it ’cause it’s all over MTV, movies. But that’s just one part, and a shallow one too. You see fully dressed men with almost nude girls, and acting as if they are pimps. And that’s not love or sex. Be open about it in you home and in your family. So children know what it’s all about. Loving, caring and sex, but also the diseases and what to do if you get pregnant. (You do have morning-after pills, don’t you? Lots and lots of hormones you take for 3 days and preventing you from getting pregnant?)

    I won’t go down the road of abortion, ’cause I know that’s a big issue. In Holland it’s legal and the women who have to take that choice, I bow to them. I don’t know if I could do the same thing. Everyone’s making a fuss about babymurder, but I think of all the women who got pregnant during a rape or with an abusive partner or young kids. They can’t offer the baby a chance to make the best out of life. That’s where I think that discussion should be all about, but that’s my opninion.

    Hope you guys are not offended by this post, because that’s not what I had in mind. I just wanted you to know how I think of it. So if you think it’s inappropriate in any way, it wasn’t my intention.

    To Dr. Phil:
    Love your show, I watch it sometimes and I think you’re doing a great job! You’re like the therapist of all the Americans ;-)
    Maybe you could do a show with the cultural differences in the birth control debate

    Ciska from Holland

  42. Ellie says:

    It’s a fact that teenagers are having sex earlier and earlier. I grew up in a school that gave sex education from 12 yo to 18 yo, yearly. I knew about all the diseases and risk of getting pregnant. I never had ‘The talk’ with my parents because they were extremely uncomfortable with it. I asked my mom for the pil but for another excuse “it was easier to control my time of the month”. She let me go to the gynaecologist by myself. I was too scared to get pregnant to have sex without it, but on the other hand didnt realise the importance of condoms.
    I am pro parents talking but i dont believe in the parents having the only right to give their kids sexual education. Society and the government have to take responsibility and protect children. Obviously letting the parents take responsibility hasnt done any good for a minorty of the kids (but you cant just leave them to deal with all this by himself). The government has to step in with adjusted sexual education to every age group. Start it all from the bottom down and then build it up from there.
    I have given sexual education to teenagers and i am also concerned about how they believe that relationship work like in the movies/tv… There is more then just the aspect of the actual “deed”. There is so much more attached to it.
    On the matter of age… i believe they should give birth control to kids BUT they should notify the parents when they are under the age of 16 and the kids have to follow an extra sexual education class.

  43. Tsukihime says:

    I am not a parent but I do have a 15 year old niece, an 18 year old nephew and a 4 year old nephew. I do not believe in teaching abstinence, I don’t think it works, especially on young people with raging hormones so I don’t think it’s ever too early to talk about birth control and condoms, girls AND boys. I have very open relationships with the two oldest and we talk about sex all the time, even if it’s embarrassing to them. In fact, the 15 year old just went on the pill because she felt comfortable enough to talk to her mother about wanting to have sex with her boyfriend. I am the aunt who stresses condom use, not just for pregnancy but for diseases as well. Our mother never talked about it so it’s fortunate I didn’t get pregnant as a teen or contract an STD…

  44. Cristina says:

    Hello, I’m Cristina and I’m almost 19. My mom and I have a very close relationship and we talk about sex quit often. Every teenager I know thinks that thats weird, they feel very awkward talking to their parents about sex. I think that is the problem… parents and kids aren’t comfortable talking to each other about these types of things and since nobody else is doing it the schools are stepping in to try to inform teens.

    When I was in high school last spring a lot of my friends where telling me that they was having sex, I ask each and everyone of them if they was on birth control and none of them was. They then soon started asking me questions about birth control… I was shocked at the fact they didn’t know much about it. I told them everything I knew and offered them a ride to the health department.

    From my point of view there is several reasons why kids having sex (or thinking about it) don’t get on birth control; they don’t want to tell there parents (affraid they might judge them), they don’t want to be looked at in areas of their bodies by a doctor (seems scary), they WANT to get pregnant (this is wierd, I know, but you’ll be shocked to find out this is true… more often than not), and they just don’t know anything about birth control… where to get it, what it costs, what it will do to their body, ect.

    I think birth control for teenagers is a must, not all teenagers are going to ask their parents or get on it themselves but one thing is certain IF THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE SEX, THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE SEX, WITH BIRTH CONTROL OR NOT.

  45. Jessica says:

    I believe sex education is very important in schools because a lot of parents are scared to talk to their children about sex or they don’t know when the appropriate age is to start this conversation. I’m 21, and I don’t ever remember my parents talking to me about sex. I learned from my friends and the sex ed courses in school. Those sex ed courses sure helped me decide to be abstinent, at least until I was out of high school. If I would have solely had to learn from my friends and peers, I surely would have been having sex in high school and maybe would even have become a teenage mom, as a lot of my friends did. Also, a lot of kids and teens don’t listen to their parents, but will listen when someone else tells them. I remember hearing my parents tell me what was right and wrong, but I never really HEARD it until I heard it from someone else. I believe at least showing teens that there is a choice and making them realize that not EVERYONE is having sex, most teens will make the right choice. It’s all about being educated and informed.

  46. Anita says:

    To advocate birth control or not to advocate birth control seems to boil down to religious beliefs. If you have a show and have folks both pro and con, it will escalate into Christians vs. “Heathens”, and the original theme of the show will get lost in the chaos. I am a Christian. I firmly believe that parents, and if not parents, then it should come from some other source, should teach thier teens about birth control. In my area here in SW VA, we have recently had a rise in teen pregnancies. This is a very conservative area, when we had the family life curriculum introduced into the school system years ago, it was the most conservative of this area. I think it’s a responsibility of a parent along with all the other responsibilites, to talk to teens about sex, and everything that goes along with it, in an open, mature setting and keep the lines of communications open. I think to assume that teaching kids Christian values from the time they are little, and not including sex education, is a naive mind set. I don’t understand why it has to be either, or, why can’t it be both, and? By the time our kids are teens, we will either have nutured thier Christian teachings or not. When hormones start raging, it ain’t gonna matter whether they’re Christian hormones or not, hormones are hormones.

  47. Jessica Judd says:

    I am 42 years old and have been married 16 years. I was a virgin when I got married but my husband was not, although he did not have a lot of experience. Our decision to wait had nothing to do with a religious belief. We just felt it was the right thing to do.

    My parents were very open with me telling me about all kinds of birth control and even showed me a condom. I was probably a young teenager at the time. They also stressed that this should be used when you got married and not before. They tended to use scare tactics, ie: boys only want one thing, they should be avoided, you don’t want to be a “loose” girl,etc. As a result, although I was well equiped for certain situations, I was also very fearful to become involved with anyone and being a disappointment to them. My father even told me that if I got pregnant in my 20’s before marriage he would have felt like they (and I) had failed. I would not approach sex ed with my kids like that (girl, 6, boy 4). I think I made my choices based on fear a lot of the time. We want to be honest and lay out the consequences without making the opposite sex seem like the enemy. Some of the best advice I got was from Dr. Ruth who made it clear that you could do lots of things without having sex. I don’t think that is emphasized enough and is a viable alternative. It recognizes that teens/adults are sexual people and allows for those emotions without the risk of getting pregnant or getting a disease. You can’t pretend that sexual feelings do not exist.

    I really take issue at all the casual sex on TV, both on scripted shows and reality shows. Sex is taken very lightly by many people and just shouldn’t be. Girls and boys should know that it should be thought of as a special act and not just something you do like hand holding. Your body is sacred and should be treated as such. I’m really put off when people say, “It’s natural,” “What are you waiting for?” and the like. You are not an animal in the wild. You can make an intelligent decision.

    I’ve also heard parents of teens say, I’m not naive, I know it’s going to happen. Well, you can set certain standards for your kids: It’s not OK to have sex when you are a teenager, here are the physical and emotional consequences, here’s some language you can use to help you out, here are some alternatives. Don’t drop the ball because you or people you know or the media has told you that everyone does it. I’m also not a fan of the Promise Ring and things of that nature because the decisions are made very early on to wear one, often before a teen had dealt with the reality of a relationship. I think you may also be setting up a child to feel like a huge disappointment to the parent and/or to God if they break that promise Also, I think while religious beliefs can help parents at times, it does not mean that those who are not religious can not stress the same morals, just not religious based.

    In the end, you just do the best that you can. You are probably the best role modle for your child and I have no problem owning up to what I did or didn;t do in order to teach my children.

  48. Briana says:

    Hey, Dr. Phil. I know i’m late on answering, but I still wanted to tell you my opinion.
    I’m fifteen years old, a sophmore in high school. I know of two of my friends who are only a couple moths older than me who have lost their virginity, and both their moms know about it. I know they aren’t the only two in my high school, but either way. I mean, they aren’t my absolute best friends, so I don’t know the whole story, buti guess my point is that they told their mom after the fact and their boyfriends were protected, although I don’t know if they’re on birth control right now.

    Now, my beat friend is on birth control right now and she has been since about June and it’s for health reasons, and knowing her so well, I know she’s not Going out and sleeping with every guy she knows. Plus she told me she hasn’t, so I guess those are two sides of a story.

    Now my side? My parents haven’t directly told me I can’t go out and have sex, and Im not planning on running out and doing it, either, but there are some girls who might. If my parents told me I coulnt, I, just like any other teenaged girl, would want to run out and sleep with some random guy just to disobey the rules. But I wouldn’t. Because to me that’s something I’m gona wait for the right person for. And when I decide to go though with it or not is my choice and his, so whether my mom and dad are behind me on it, whether it’s when I’m seventeen or twenty three, it’s my choice, and I’m probably going to be really stubborn about it and do what I want because that’s just me. But I will wait for “the one” before or after marrige.

    I think parents should offer birth control though, because bot all girls are going to go have sex with their boyfriend. Even if it isn’t offered, some girls are going to, so it’s better than not having any at all. Because although no sex is the only safe sex, it’s better to have the option than get pregnant on accident.

    But then again, I’m only fifteen.
    Well, I hope you got to read this Dr. Phil. :)

    -briana

  49. Amanda says:

    I have 5 kids, and I plan on being very honest and frank with them about sex and birth control. When I was growing up, we never had “the talk” just the old “do as I say, not as I do” talk – NO SEX UNTIL MARRIAGE. So when I got to high school, all my friends were talking about this cool thing called sex, and everyone wants to know more. I want my girls to know the facts, that they shouldn’t be afraid of JUST getting pregnant. There are so many STD’s, and some of them are forever, and even deadly. I want them to be educated, and I want to stress to them the importance of waiting, but most of all I want them to know that, not matter what, they can come to me with anything. It is my job as a parent to fully inform them so they can make smart decisions. Teaching them abstinence only is doing them no service. Telling them just not to do it isn’t enough. They need to know why, and that if they decide to do it, how to protect themselves, because nobody else is going to do it for them. I wish someone had been that honest and upfront with me.

  50. Angela Wolf says:

    I put myself on birth control when I was 17 more for the fact of acne and heavy periods. The product I was on, was taken off the market, but I was lied to and told that they weren’t bringing enough to the clinic. It was a free clinic or low cost depending on your income. Now, they think I have PCOS. I’m 30 and been married to my wonderful husband for 8 years with NO protection now. However that’s not the point. The point is, I DIDN’T go on the pill to prevent pregnancy. I didn’t lose my virginity till i was 19 and a half years old. Yes, those extra months do mean something. I’ve had very limited partners because I have to be in a relationship before I’d even consider it. AND They had to not have multiple partners, which was easy to tell because I knew them all and a few of each of their ex’s.

    So…the point of that was, I wasn’t taught no sex. I wish I had the talk. From my stand point, if I wasn’t pulled from the school I had attended, I would have had sex before I was 10. Not getting into details. THERE is a possibility….GREAT BIG ONE, that they will think that protected sex means less issues. SO…you NEED to make sure they understand that diseases will or could be passed. As well as the possibility of birth control having an adverse effect on them or not working.

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