IMG_20130420_142935Memphis City Schools have officially ended for the year. But, it didn’t end without Wooddale High School presenting it’s 3rd Annual “I’m Not Having A Baby Shower” event. Hosted by Americorps, The Exchange Club and others, it was an opportunity for young ladies to become informed about the importance of getting an education, abstinence, sex safe, HIV/AIDS, teen dating violence and the struggles of being a teen parent.

Those in attendance participated in workshops on these issues. They also heard from panelist, including me, about being a teen parent, domestic violence, sexual assault and making the right choices when considering when and who to date. Some of the ladies were also given ‘babies’ to care for throughout the day. Those ladies gave an account of their experiences with the babies at the end of the day. Every one of the those ladies talked about how difficult it was to take care of them; how they wouldn’t stop crying and how they weren’t able to take part in some of the classes at times. They talked about having to feed them, change them and rock them to sleep. Each one encouraged the other participants to NOT have a baby.

Overall, it was a great conference, and I have been actively participated in it since it began. I would encourage all of us to please be open and honest with our young ladies (and young men) about the importance of abstinence. But, if they elect not to be abstinent, to practice safe sex and to strongly consider the consequences of their choices. Let us encourage them and help them to understand that they need to be mentally ready for sex and relationships, have an understanding and love of self, set goals and know that it’s ok to say no to any and everything negative that hinders them from achieving those goals.