Despite sexual education programs that teach teens about birth control, condoms and/or abstinence, the sexual behavior of young people in the U.S continues to be risky and concerning.
Take a look at this alarming information:
According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of American teenagers are sexually active by the tender age of 17. By the age of 19, the numbers rise to over 70 percent.
80% of young adults surveyed in a large U.S. state university believe oral sex does not count as sex.[i]
40% of sexually active high school students in the US did not use a condom when they last had sex.[ii]
15 to 24 year olds in the US get nearly half of all STI’s, even though they make up only 25% of the sexually experienced population.[iii]
1 in 4 new HIV infections in the US occurs in youth ages 13-24[iv]
3 in 10 American girls will get pregnant at least once before age 20. Parenthood is the leading reason teen girls drop out of school.[v]
US still has a higher teen pregnancy rate than other developed countries[vi] (three times higher than Germany and France, and four times higher than the Netherlands) and a teen birth rate that is almost eight times higher than the Netherlands, five times higher than France, and four times higher than Germany.[vii]3 in 10 American girls will get pregnant at least once before age 20. Parenthood is the leading reason teen girls drop out of school.[v]
According to a survey of teens 15-18 and their parents by Planned Parenthood, Family Circle magazine and the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health, half of all teens felt uncomfortable having a conversation with their parents about sex. 42 percent of parents say they’ve talked to their teens “many times” about how to say no to sex while only 27 percent of teens agree.[viii]
This change starts with a new sexual revolution for women. It starts with you.
Start talking about sex early. Answer your daughter’s questions honestly in an age appropriate way. The more this is a running dialogue and the less it’s isolated conversations, the more comfortable and successful you will be.This can be challenging, but wouldn’t you rather your daughter learn from you?
Emphasize that you trust your daughter to make good sexual decisions. Naturally you want to protect your child, but know that she may not hear you at all if you are trying to cram your views down her throat.
You don’t want to push too hard, but you also don’t be shy about sharing your opinions. Give good reasons for your expectations, not just, “because I say so.”
Understand the pressure she faces as a teen in our sexually saturated society. There is a stigma to virginity.
Teach her that knowledge and self worth are sexier than bare midriffs and cleavage.
Teach her that “protection” isn’t just about condoms or birth control pills. It includes protecting her heart. Girls need to hear that it’s normal to have emotions with sexual involvement, even though television or their friends may say it’s no big deal.
Remember the way the human brain works: it’s a lot easier to sell an idea that matters right now, rather than in some distant point in the future. Maybe having to drop out of school because of pregnancy doesn’t seem as a scary as getting dumped by a guy after having sex with him. Try to find out what’s most important to your daughter and start there.
If your daughter rebels against a recommendation you make, enlist someone else she loves to have this conversation with her, and/or seek professional help.
If your child has a history of making impulsive decisions, seek professional help to prevent impulsiveness in the sexual arena. Early intervention is critical. Even good communication and a good relationship with you may not be enough to help her.
Remember that you are the role model for your daughter’s confidence. Teens often learn from what we do, not what we say. Teach confidence by example.