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Teens and Sex

Teens and Sex If you knew your teen was drinking, smoking pot or using drugs, would it bother you?

The response from most parents would be a resounding yes - and they would move into rapid response mode to help their teen.

Interestingly, many parents believe there is a high probability their teen will have sex during their adolescent years.  But the difference in their response to sex versus alcohol or drugs is dramatic.  Some parents with sweat pouring off their forehead will sit down to have “the talk” but never really say anything and end the talk with “You don’t have any questions do you?”  Others refuse to talk with their kids about sex saying they will figure it out on their own.  How can this be when a parent’s main responsibility is to keep their child out of harm’s way?

Consider this:
  • Research from the Centers for Disease Control indicates that 20 million Americans contract sexually-transmitted infections every year.  Ten million of those infected are under the age of 25.
  • African American males older than 13 account for 44% of new HIV cases in this country.
  • Research indicates that damage occurs to the brain’s emotional bonding mechanism when teens have sex with one partner after another; this behavior makes them susceptible to having difficulty forming healthy, long-term relationships in the future.
  • In 2013, there were 321 births to females ages 10-19 at a cost of approximately $7.7 million to Hamilton County. This includes costs associated with child welfare, criminal justice, public assistance, and lost tax revenue associated with reduced educational attainment and associated income.
October is Let’s Talk month, a time specifically set aside to encourage parents to either continue or start an ongoing dialogue with their children about topics such as sex, love, lust and romance in order to help young people understand that relationships based on sex aren’t healthy or cool. While teen pregnancy is not likely to kill your teen, sexually-transmitted infections can.

As a parent, it is your responsibility to do everything in your power to keep your teen safe and healthy.  Talking with your child about sex and healthy relationships should begin in childhood and continue through the hormone-driven, drama-filled adolescent years. 

Here are a few pointers to help get the dialogue started:
  • Talk about the health aspects as well as the “heart” aspects of sex.
  • Place the discussion firmly in the context of relationship development, love and commitment.  This is what teens say they want to hear.
  • Many parents had sex in their teen years.  Just because you did it doesn’t mean you want your children to do the same.  The goal is to help young people do better.  Today is a totally different ballgame when it comes to STIs. 
  • Help teens understand what makes sex beautiful and special.  It is more than physical chemistry.
Don’t allow today’s pop culture or media perceptions to lull you into believing that teens having sex is an acceptable norm.  By keeping the lines of communication open between you and your children, you become the trusted authority on the positive outcomes of developing healthy relationships.  Kids really do want to know what you think.  Don’t be afraid to tell them.

For more resources on parenting teens, contact First Things First or ask about one of our parenting classes.