Program teaches parents how to talk to their teens
OKMULGEE, Okla. — The Mvskoke Nation Youth Services held a teen pregnancy prevention event May 3, at the Mound Building in Okmulgee.
May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.
MNYS Program Development Specialist Rachael Sourjohn wants to bring awareness of the issue of teen pregnancy and encourage parents and youth to communicate with one another.
A panel of current and former teen parents was present during the event to talk about their experiences.
Emotions ran high as the teen parents talked about the struggles that they faced.
“Teen pregnancy is an emotional issue,” Sourjohn said. “It’s something that needs to be talked about.”
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma is the second-highest ranked state for teen pregnancy.
MNYS provides programs and classes to citizens wanting to learn more about youth sexual health education and will go out to the communities the most at risk for teen pregnancy, such as Okfuskee, Hughes, Okmulgee and Muskogee.
Sex education can be an uncomfortable conversation for parents, school administrators and youth. MNYS wants to change that view and help with communication barriers.
Sourjohn said in an interview with Mvskoke Radio that school administrators are hesitant to teach sex education because of the potential negative reactions from parents.
She said the generational gap can also affect the way parents approach the subject.
“I think it kind of goes back to the older generation. They received it in school, so they got that education. Now that it’s not in the schools, I think that the older generation doesn’t know how to have that conversation,” Sourjohn said. “So then the youth are not receiving it anywhere.”
MNYS holds classes that give parents information including factual information about sexual health and basic communication tips.
Sourjohn said they will help bridge the gap in communication between parents and youth by asking what questions youth want answered and where the conversation needs to start for parents.
They also hold classes that address safe sex and abstinence.
Sourjohn said that they want youth to get an understanding on how to communicate with their partner. She also said that identifying consent and healthy relationships is a major part of teen pregnancy prevention.