This article goes through six different tips on how to approach the topic of sex to your teenager to guarantee they know everything they need regarding safer sex. Before they discuss each tip, they first bring up the fact that, the majority of the time, the negative outcomes of teen sex is not due to young age like many people suspect. In fact, the article states that the rise of the negative outcomes of sexual interactions among teens is due to the current administration enforcing that schools teach sex education programs solely based on Abstinence Only teaching.
Because of this, sexual health for teens is not being taught correctly, which leads to teenagers not understanding the consequences, which causes those negative outcomes of sex to occur. Next, the article goes into depth about those six tips on how to approach the subject of sex to your teenagers. The first few tips that the author, Ellen Friedrichs, discusses are to “challenge the idea that sex is inherently dangerous for teens, [and to] fight against abstinence-only education.” She brings up a fact we cannot ignore: Americans fear bringing up sex with their teenagers because of how uncomfortable the topic can be. We need to consider if this is really a big enough reason to not have the Sex Talk.
One of the reasons why its necessary to have that Sex Talk is because more often than not, when adolescents talk about their own sexual experiences they are portrayed as uncomfortable and unpleasant. This is partly due to the negative connotation used when speaking about sex to teenagers. If they are being taught to fear sexual intercourse due to pregnancies and the contraction of STIs, teens are far more likely to be timid and uncomfortable when they do end up having sex. However, the complete absence of any sexual education, often attributed to abstinence-only teachings, can lead teens to practice unsafe sex, whether by drinking or using drugs prior to intercourse, having little to no communication with their sexual partner, or by not using any type of protection such as condoms or other forms of contraceptives.
It’s important to recognize that how we communicate with adolescents about sex is what leads to the rise of these negative consequences, not their age. Friedrichs also advises that we need to talk to our teenagers about sex first, and then afterwards if necessary, take action. We have too many teenagers that do not presently have access to contraceptives, and too many teenagers that are not getting the information they need on safe sexual practices, most likely due to a combination of abstinence-only education and the lack of parental guidance on the topics. So now we have to ask ourselves, what can parents, teachers, and adults do, to help these teens determine if they are ready for sex? Friedrichs shows that we can do this by asking questions to help them see if they are truly ready.
Questions such as: “Do you want to be in a committed relationship before you have sex? What if your partner wants more commitment than you? Do you know how to reduce the health risks? Are you feeling pressured into having sex?” Asking these simple questions can help teenagers see if they are ready, and it can help the parents decide if they need to take action. By “taking action”, the article implies that parents should buy contraceptives/condoms for their teens, show them how to use a condom, inform them on STIs, and how to get tested for them. Because of the limited amount of clinics for teens to go to, taking the preventative measures to protect themselves can be extremely difficult, which is why adults need to learn when to step in and help. This articles message is extremely important in order to help ensure teenagers to get that Sex Talk they need to have a safer, consensual, and enjoyable sex life.
This article specifically talks about the topics of teen sexuality, and how to better prepare them for sex. It’s trying to teach us that if adults aren’t talking to adolescents about their sexuality or what they should consider before they have sex, or else we are not stopping them from having “unwanted, unprotected, or deeply unsatisfying” sex (Friedrichs). Abstinence-only education can also be psychologically harmful to growing teens as well. By not discussing certain topics during the Sex Talk, we can essentially be putting teenagers in a constant state of insecurity and shame for the feelings they cannot help but have.
They are taught to fear unwanted pregnancies, especially because these communities are avidly against abortion. They are taught to fear STIs but are given no protection against them. They are taught to fear their parents’ reactions, shame from their peers, and shame from their future spouses. Sex to them is treated with such a negative perspective, that these teens feel like they are doing something wrong for having natural feelings and urges. Adolescence is a time for human development, especially in their sexuality, and if parents/adults aren’t talking about it, then a lot of misconceptions and confusion about sex can arise for these teens. This confusion can often lead to teens having sexual experiences that end in negative outcomes.
Teen sexuality can impact our society more than we might think. Without proper sex education, teens are far more susceptible to unexpected consequences of sex such as pregnancy, and contraction of STI’s. Teens specifically are so susceptible due to their changing hormones, which spurs their curiosity in their newfound sexuality. If there is a lack of parental guidance, teens do not feel like they can talk to their parents about their questions, and so, they will turn to their peers, often times leading to misinformation. It’s a parent’s responsibility to create a safe, open environment for their teen, because if they don’t, they can’t control where their teen gets their information from, and it can lead to those unexpected consequences.
There are plenty of myths that are perpetuated by young adolescents that simply aren’t true. We’ve heard them all before: “You can’t get pregnant your first time having sex” “You can’t get pregnant if there wasn’t a climax” “You can’t catch an STI from oral sex”. These claims are plainly false, but teens will still take these, and many other misconceptions, to heart if there isn’t proper sexual education to explain it to them. Regarding an abstinence-only education, the Guttmacher Institute helps prove how this lack of sex education is ineffective because, “states that abide by abstinence-only sexual education have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country, almost entirely localized around the southern region of the United States.” These teen pregnancy rates are far higher in the South than they are in states that promote a more comprehensive sexual education. This can be due to many reasons.
One such reason is often described as the ‘Rubber Band Effect’ which states that the harder you push your teenager in a certain direction, the farther they will go in the opposite direction. By making sex and sexual acts taboo, one only increases the allure for it. Teenaged rebellion has always been a constant in every generation. And as such, often the strictest parents have the most rebellious children. This then becomes a problem because the teenagers are far more interested in having sex due to the taboo nature it’s been assigned, but because abstinence-only education does not teach them anything, they are far more susceptible to the consequences. And due to contraceptives being all but forbidden in abstinence-only communities, teen pregnancies skyrocket.
Growing up, I know my mom gave me the “sex talk”, but unfortunately, I don’t really remember it. In school, we didn’t have sex education, so I didn’t really have anything to prepare me for how to have safe sex, and whether or not I needed contraceptives, nor did I even know what kind of questions to ask. When I had sex for the first time, I was more or less clueless on what to do, but luckily I had a partner who had more experience, and wanted me to feel comfortable with whatever we did. But unfortunately, not every teenager is going to find someone like that.
They could be put into a situation that they are not prepared for and end up doing something they don’t really want to do. How someone learns about sex can really effect them in their teen years. I remember when I was in high school, my body started to change; I eventually got bigger breast, and a slimmer, more curvier figure. At the time, I had thought that boys would only like me because of my body and not for me. So, I started covering up my body in high school by wearing a baggy T-shirt and sweats. I was too afraid to get close to my fellow peers in fear of getting slit shamed for the body i didn’t choose. Because of this, I had very few people I could call friends.
This is due to how People talked about sex around me. I was told that if you dress “too sexy” or show off “too much skin” that it would be my fault for getting slut shamed, that it would be my fault if a boy tried to have sex with me and I did not want it. Is this really what we should be teaching our teenage girls and boys? This is essential one outcome of an abstinence only education. This type of education, scares our teenage girls into covering their bodies up in fear of getting sexualized, and it fails to teach teens about consent.