Lola

Let’s teach our teens the real meaning of amor

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Hello DeeAnn, it’s Lola.

You don’t know me, but I want to talk to you about sex.

Since this is the month for romance, I think it’s good timing.

I know, I know, as la presidenta of the Arizona Partners for Abstinence Education, you may not want to have this provocative plática. You may not even like hearing words such as sex, hanky panky or making la whoopee woo.

Call it what you will, it’s still sex and a lot of our teenagers are having it.

Pero la verdad? That’s not news – especially in our community. I don’t know a Latino family out there that hasn’t had to face the shock of a prima or a sobrina or a daughter who got pregnant way too early in life.

I think of my poor cousin. She got pregnant at 17. The baby, as all babies do, took over her life. She dropped out of high school, and gave up her dream of college. Over and over, she tells me she wishes someone had told her “the facts of life” about sex and life as a teen-aged mom. And it’s been happening way too long. I just saw that fabulous Broadway play, Spring Awakening.

Fíjate, it was written in 1891. It’s about teens coping with their sexuality and no one will talk to them about it. No parents, no school officials, and definitely not the church. Of course, this poor young girl, who knows nada pero nada about the birds and the bees, gets pregnant.

Has so little changed since 1891? Yo creo que sí.

Go see it, DeeAnn. Fly to New York. Call it an educational expense. You’ll change your mind about the kind of poor education we’re providing our teens about sex.

You’re probably thinking, esta loca, Lola! If you don’t believe me, look at the statistics.

The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate among the world’s most developed nations. Aye, qué verguenza! Arizona has the fifth highest teen pregnancy rate in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And of all ethnicities, guess which group has the highest rates? You guessed it. Latinas.

Telling teens not to have sex is a message they need to hear. That’s where you and I agree. Pero sabes qué? Teenagers don’t always listen. So saying “DON’T HAVE SEX” needs to be combined with facts about how to protect themselves if they do decide to have sex.

You wouldn’t tell your child, “I’m not going to talk about you driving a car,” then hand them the car keys. What I am trying to say is that “abstinence only,” DeeAnn, isn’t enough. They need to know all the facts. Maybe then, the rate of children having children will go down.

This is the month for romance. Let’s also make time to teach our children how to love and respect themselves enough to avoid the mistake of letting sex turn their lives upside down.

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