Top 10 Tips to Reduce Teen sex
Teen sex may
not be wholly preventable, the health risks it involves can be reduced through
communication within the family.
Facts about Teens and Sex
- Ten percent of all 13-year-olds have had sexual intercourse.
- 50 percent of all teenagers have had sex by the time they
enter the 10th grade.
- One in every five teenage
girls will become
pregnant during high school.
- Half of all teenagers don't believe oral sex is sex.
- By the time they finish high school, two-thirds of all young
adults will have become sexually active.
Making Teenagers more Aware: Teens who have intercourse tend
to think their friends are too, even if they're not. "You're 2.5 times
more likely to have sex by the 9th grade if you think your friends are
having sex -- whether or not they really are," says Katharine Atwood,
assistant professor at the Kentucky School of Public Health. Plus, teens
tend to overestimate how many of their friends are sexually active. Only
33 percent of kids in the study had had sex by the 9th grade, but 31
percent said that most or all of their friends had had sex.
"If you can persuade them that fewer are having sex than they think,"
she says, "that can have a significant impact on their behavior."
Parents answering questions about sex: Kids
have lots of questions about sex, and they often say that the source
they'd most like to go to for answers is their parents. Start the
conversation, and make sure that it is honest, open, and respectful. If
you can't think of how to start the discussion, consider using
situations shown on television or in movies as conversation starters.
Tell kids candidly and confidently what you think and why you take these
positions; if you're not sure about some issues, tell them that, too. Be
sure to have a two-way conversation, not a one-way lecture. Ask them
what they think and what they know so you can correct misconceptions.
Ask what, if anything, worries them. Remember to talk about the reasons
that kids find sex interesting and enticing.
Watching Peer Choices: Friends
have a strong influence on each other, so help your children and teenagers
become friends with kids whose families share your values. Fighting
loneliness is difficult for a teenager. There are times when they
unknowingly land themselves in wrong company and find themselves kind of
lost. Instead of confronting them share their fear and doubts. Invite your
teen's friends to your house in order for you to get to know them. Encourage
extracurricular activities that will introduce your teenager to good
friends. Pressure to be good is a lot easier to manage than pressure to be
Discourage early and frequent dating: Group
activities among young people are fine and often fun, but allowing teens to
begin steady, dating much before age 16 can lead to trouble. Let your child
know about your strong feelings about this throughout childhood - don't wait
until your young teen proposes a plan that differs from your preferences in
this area; otherwise, he or she will think you just don't like the
particular person or invitation.
Making Education, a top priority: Encourage your children to take
school seriously and to set high expectations about their school
performance. Limit the number of hours your teenager gives to part-time jobs
(20 hours per week should be the maximum) so that there is enough time and
energy left to focus on school. Know about homework assignments and support
your child in getting them done. Teen sex can at times lead to unwanted
pregnancy, leaving girls less likely to finish high school or get married,
and are more likely to live in poverty, reducing their ability to properly
care and provide for their children.
Media Responsibility: Even after controlling risk factors like
family stability and income levels, rates of teen pregnancy increase if
there is greater exposure to sex on TV. Movies such as Juno (depicting a
teen who becomes pregnant and has to deal with the consequences) and
old-fashioned after-school specials are the exception to the rule; most
television aimed at teens and young adults doesn't connect STIs and pregnancy to
sexual activity. Parents should try to remove TV and limit internet access
from childrens' bedrooms (a recommendation, incidentally, that's also made
in the interest of reducing obesity, which has a link to unfettered access
to TV). Become "media literate" - think about what you and your family are
watching and reading.
Taking up Family Sport: Being
an active participant in life sets an excellent example for your children,
and participating in sports together can be a treasured family bond. Go for
a family bike ride.
Plan family hiking or camping trips, this will promote
bonding and better expression of feelings amongst you all. Plan family
indoor games and dinner to capitalize on lighter moments.
Knowledge of Disease and Pregnancy Prevention: Being uninformed on topics
like STDs and pregnancy can result in crisis situations that may alter the
trajectory of a young person’s life. Thus, having accurate and up-to-date
information is an important prerequisite to becoming sexually active. A teen
should be made to realize, ‘What if your method of birth
control fails?’ and ‘What if you are deceived by the information you get
from a sexual partner?’ It is important to face the reality that sexual
intercourse, for example, is never completely safe. ‘Is any level of risk worth
taking at this point in my life?’
Watching the triggers: Sex
amongst teenagers is not always the topic that gets you thinking about sex.
Sometimes pure boredom with life begins an automated response that looks for
entertainment, and eventually leads to thinking about sex. There are a
number of triggers. If you can identify your triggers, you can limit their
capacity to veer you into thinking about sex. Stress is
a huge trigger for sex, and thinking about sex.
Love Yourself: Parents
should make an effort to praise daughters not only for success, but for
effort and strategy, to help her develop better self-esteem, according to
the American Academy of Pediatrics. Remind your daughter often of her
positive traits and give plenty of physical affection. Girls who lack
self-love and self-esteem may become depressed, according to the Center for
Young Women's Health. If your daughter's self-esteem problems are affecting
other areas of her life, a counselor or other mental health professional may
be able to help.
Even if you're uncomfortable, forge ahead. Remember, you're setting the stage
for open, honest discussions in the years to come. Consider who's best to
educate your child — you or the TV, the Internet or your child's friends?
Dated 22 November 2013