Safe Sex Education for Teens
Growing up in this day and age, is not always easy. The period between puberty and right before adulthood is a complicated time biologically, socially and psychologically. During adolescence, adult sexuality starts to take shape and will become a vital part of adult identity. At this point, a person’s individual opinions, thoughts and behaviors regarding sex begin to form, and these beliefs and practices can remain with them their entire lives.
This avalanche of hormones and changes can cause a tremendous amount of stress for teens. Some of the choices they can make during this time can affect them for the rest of their lives.
Navigating this new terrain can be frightening and overwhelming for both the teenagers and their parents. Speaking with teens about safe sex can help them make responsible choices not only in their teen years but throughout their lives.
What Is Safe Sex?
Although it may not be what a teen wants to hear, they need to know that the only kind of sex without any risks is no sex at all. According to most healthcare providers, abstinence is the only true form of "safe sex". That is, without any risks of sexually transmitted diseases (STD), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STI).
However, there are ways to significantly reduce the risk of STDs through "safer" sex practices. Ensuring that your child knows how to minimize these risks before being placed in a situation where they may begin to engage in sex, means talking to them about safe sex practices.
Talking With Your Teen About Safe Sex
Speaking about sex with a teenager is awkward and embarrassing for all parties involved, but it is a necessary part of parenting. The open conversation with a parent is not the same as the sex education teens receive formally in school.
Though it is important, the scholastic based teaching does not replace guidance from a parent. And although they may not show it, teens value the dialogue they hear from their caregivers. Approaching the topic with your teenager can be tricky, so we have some tips for you.
Look for a Moment
When you are alone with your teen, look for a time when a television program, song on the radio, or topic comes up that is related to responsible or irresponsible sexual behavior. Seize opportunities spontaneously, rather than creating a formal one-on-one "talk".
Be Honest and Direct
Stay true to the facts and be honest. Be objective when stating risks and choices, and do not forget to talk about risks such as emotional pain, pregnancy and STDs. If you are embarrassed or uncomfortable, let them know it. But also let them know that you are trying to overcome your embarrassment because the information is vital for them to know.
Talk About Emotions and Opinions
Sometimes, it is more comfortable for parents to stick to the facts, rather than talk about opinions or emotions. However, failing to speak with your teenager about the emotional impact of sexual activity can leave them vulnerable to poor decisions when it does occur.
Discuss how emotions can affect decisions, before, during and after sexual activity. If you would like your own opinions known, state them clearly. But, understand that your teenager is a separate individual who can form their ideas and may disagree. Avoid lecturing or scaring them. Teenagers are sensitive to being lectured because their natural tendencies are to be autonomous.
Tough Topics to Include in Your Discussion About Safe Sex
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends abstinence as the only form of 100% safe sex.
- Think twice before starting a sexual relationship, especially with anyone new. Encourage a discussion of past partners, their history of STDs and any drug use. Know that some people may not be honest in their answers; therefore, sex with someone new is always a risk.
- The more partners you have, the higher the risk for STDs.
- Always check your body and your partner’s body for any signs of an STD, like sores, rashes, or blisters. If there are any signs, do not have sex.
- The CDC recommends that using a condom correctly each time sex occurs can help to avoid STDs. However, you can still become infected with STDs such as herpes or HPV from skin contact on areas not covered by a condom.
- When having oral sex, both the mouth and genitals can transmit infections. It’s best to use a condom.
- Sexually active females should get regular pap tests, gynecological exams and periodic tests for STDs.
- Other types of activities other than oral, vaginal, or anal sex should be considered. Techniques that do not include exposure to bodily fluids or mucous membranes are considered safer.
- Drugs and alcohol can prevent a person from thinking clearly and making safe decisions regarding sex.
- Encourage your teen to approach you in the future if they have any questions.
- Feel free to refer your teen to valid educational websites like the CDC regarding safe sex. You can also ask your doctor to speak to your teenager regarding sex.
Remember to emphasize that sex is something to be respected. The wishes of the other person have to be honored if they refuse to have sex. Force, intimidation, or pressure should never be placed on the other person to have sex.
With love and support, your teen will grow into a sexually responsible adult. Although talking about safe sex may be embarrassing for both of you, your teenager is listening to what you have to say. Have that conversation.