Today we have discovered that sex is not just a commitment or a unity you have between you and your partner but something most of us do just for the pleasure of it, or for fun, or even just to fit in. Sex has become a big part in today’s society, and we need to sit down with our children, talk about sex, talk about our bodies, and talk about the consequences that come with having sexual intercourse at such a young age. The subject of sex tends to scare off not only the parents of the teenagers, but the teenagers themselves. It is very important to keep communication open with your teenagers so that when they are faced with the issues of teen sex they feel they can come and talk to you about it. It is better for our teenagers to be able to talk to us about it then to get pregnant or catch a disease. “In 2009, 46% of high school students had sexual intercourse and 13.8% had four or more sex partners during their life. Prior to the sexual activity, 21.6% drank alcohol or used drugs and only 38.9% used a condom”.
The Guttmacher Institute reports that the United States has the highest levels of teen pregnancy among developed nations. About 75% percent of teenagers have sexual intercourse before they turn 20, and only 15% report that they are still virgins until the age of 21. The Institute reports that teenagers before the age of 15 are having sexual intercourse and are reported to have more than one partner in a year. As a young child we tend to learn to express our affections and sensual feelings through activities such as kissing and hugging. These actions can have a strong influence on “the manner in which he or she expresses sexuality in later years”. (Crooks, 2010).
Growing up my parents never really spoke about sexuality or anything of the sort. It was understood that this was an awkward subject to touch on. When I was young, I had to help take care of my sister, I was 11 when she was born, and this in time became my birth control. I saw, and I experienced how hard it was to have to take care of a child, and I only had to help take care of her, I did not need to wake up in the early mornings with her or late at night, and yet this was a constant reminder to always be protected when the time would come. My older brother did have the talk about sex and not only with my dad but with my mom as well. She spoke to him about the consequences of getting a young girl pregnant and the transmitted diseases you can get with having unprotected sex. My brother was given condoms and had the “sex” conversation. I on the other hand had to learn about my body changing and sexual intercourse through books, and through friends, and through school.
The media shows us that sex is natural, that being sexual and being sexy are things of the world. We look at this and we find that young teens want to look like models; young boys want to be strong and fit. We do not look behind the camera and we do not show our children that behind the scenes most of these people are just like you and me, that being you is okay and discovering your body when you are ready is a life time of experiences. I took a sexual education class in my sophomore year in high school, I live in Texas and it was a requirement, we learned a lot about our bodies, how to treat ourselves with how society portrays us. We learned how to eat healthy and not become anorexic or eat too much and become obese because of depression. Understanding our bodies was important, and then we learned about sexual intercourse, the consequences of teen pregnancy and the actions you might have to face if discovering you had unprotected sex and now carry a disease that may or may not kill you.
“Masturbation is one of the most common and natural forms of sexual expression during the childhood years”. (Crooks, 2010). This is true and yet as a young child learning about your body, this is why it is so important that as parents you speak to your children. As a young teenager, growing into puberty and learning about their bodies, they sometimes do not understand what is going on with their bodies, the sensations they feel, the excitement and when they discover masturbation, they may not know if it is okay to do it or not. HIV/Aids era has showed us that using protection when having sexual relations with a partner is very important. Although we learn that not only sexual intercourse is the reason behind these diseases “behaviors that put young people at risk for HIV infection include engaging in intercourse without condoms; using alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs that impair judgment, reduce impulse control, and thus increase the likelihood of hazardous sexual activity”. (Crooks, 2010). Teenagers aged 13-24 make up around 17% of those who received diagnosis of HIV/AIDS in 2008. Many teenagers do not understand the consequences that derive in acting as an adult, and that is why it is important that we talk to our teens at a young age.
Sexuality and sexual issues never derived in my family. Double standard as Crooks also talks about is true. As a girl, sexual talk or conduct of any sort was unacceptable, and we did not talk about it. For my brother, they were proud he used his condoms and they not only discussed sexual activities with him but they also gave him condoms to protect himself. I was told that I better not come home pregnant; this defense mechanism parents use because they are scared to talk about sexual acts with their children is what scare children off. I know a lot of girls who got abortions because they felt they could not come home and tell their parents they were pregnant, they did not have time to think, they did not have the choice to make of whether or not they wanted to keep the child and they did not use protection because it was never frowned upon to ever talk about in the household. Lucky for me, I had my baby sister to keep me sane, or should I say scared out of mind that I didn’t want the chance to get pregnant, because I knew from an early age that using protection was the key to healthy and sexual relationship in the future.
Crooks, R. (2010). Our Sexuality: Cengage Learning
Guttmacher Institute (1996-2011). From http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-ATSRH.html
SADD Statistics, (2011). from http://www.sadd.org/stats.htm