Concerns and consequences about sex and adolescents. Consensual Sex or Not?
According to a 2010 report published by the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46 percent of American high school students have had sexual intercourse, with13.8 percent reporting having four or more sex partners in their lives. Before becoming sexually active, 21.6 percent admitted to using alcohol or drugs and only 38.9 percent used a condom.With staggering facts such as these, it’s more important than ever to talk with your teens about sex. Dr. Laura Berman, a leading expert in sex and relationships, gives tips on age-appropriate conversations in her book, “Talking to Your Kids about Sex: Turning ‘the Talk’ into a Conversation for Life.”Geared for kids in elementary through high school, discussions can range from the basics of physical anatomy, to the consequences of sex, including early pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Every year, approximately 19 million sexually transmitted infections occur, with almost half occurring among youth ages 15 to 24.Equally alarming is a March of Dimes report that shows 3 in 10 teenage girls will become pregnant before age 20. With shows such as MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom,”many young people are beginning to realize the difficulties associated with having a child early in life. However, many don’t realize that 1 in 4 teen moms will have a second baby within two years of their first one.In addition to STDs and pregnancy, it’s also important for parents to discuss intimate relationships with their children in terms of respect, rape and abuse. In the United States,1 in 3 adolescents is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. Signs that your teen may be experiencing dating violence include physical signs of injury, drug or alcohol use, truancy and isolation.Encourage your teen, male or female, to visit loveisrespect.org, a website created by theNational Dating Abuse Helpline and Break the Cycle, an organization that encourages teens to foster healthy, respectful relationships.