Oh, the birds and the bees. Not so long ago parents and kids alike would typically dread having "the talk" in all its analog, face-to-face glory. And while search engines have taken a load off in recent years, kids can get a lot of bad information -- or just run into a lot of porn -- if they ask their sex-related questions online.
So New Mexico has decided to join North Carolina in launching a free texting service called BrdsNBz that targets teens and their parents. The service promises that, within 24 hours of someone texting a sexual health question, a health expert will text back a private and nonjudgmental response.
The service is available in both Spanish and English in the state that ranks third in teen birth rates. (On a related note, teen childbearing in the U.S. cost taxpayers at least $10.9 billion in 2008 alone, according to an analysis by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.)
"I have an 11-year-old," Valerie Fisher of New Mexico's health department told CNN. "I try to explain things to him, and he's like, 'Mommmm, stop!' so I understand. This is a great tool. It educates teens, they learn some things maybe they didn't know, and it even helps them ask their parents better questions."
California boasts a similar program called HookUp 365247 that gives teens weekly sex ed health tips and details on nearby reproductive health clinics.
The BrdsNBz program is designed to answer a wide array of questions, from anatomical questions and risks of certain activities to what slang terms mean and how to access birth control or STD tests. It also outlines a few "limitations." Health experts will not diagnose medical issues (i.e. pregnancy, STDs) or provide information on sexual technique: "Example: We will answer What is a blow job? We will not answer How do I give a blow job?"
For that, of course, there is always the aforementioned search engine.