All Articles Tagged "teens and sex"
When I worked as a sexual health educator, no one could tell me that I didn’t have the most dynamite job in the world. The information I taught almost couldn’t compare to the things I learned from my students. The “Blue Waffle”, “Red Pancake” and “Ear Wax STI Test” were just a few of the highlights from a sexual culture created by today’s teens. I enjoyed the fact that young people felt comfortable enough to open up to me about their fears, confusion and curiosity about sex while at the same time trusting me as a resource for factual information. The best part is they felt they could be themselves around me. I didn’t fidget uncomfortably every time someone dropped an F-bomb. I didn’t launch into a Sunday school lecture when students told me intimate accounts of losing their virginity in an empty school auditorium. And even though I may have been cringing on the inside, I never came across as judgmental which made students feel trusted, listened to and valued.
See when it comes to making positive impact on the behavior of our young people, the most important lesson I’ve learned is that it’s not enough to tell them how to change their behavior, you have to make an effort to understand why they are making unhealthy decisions in the first place. You have to sit down and LISTEN to them, even if it hurts. Which brings me to She Takes Control, a recent campaign launched by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, encouraging women to carry their own condoms. Before you take my words the wrong way, let me make it clear that I am in total agreement with the intentions of this effort. Although I am leery of the marketing which is reminiscent of a rejected “Just Another Girl on the IRT” movie poster, I applaud the encouragement of women to be empowered about their sexual health and speak out about what they allow to happen to their bodies. In fact, when I discuss with friends the adventures I encounter as I travel from high school to rec center meeting diverse groups of young men and women, most assume that pregnant and sexually active ones were the ones who were skipping class, being loud in the hallways, spending more time in the club than they did in class. But the truth is I had a fair share of quiet, reserved bookworms who shared the same sexual health issues. You meet enough teens and you’ll notice whether they are doing homework in homeroom or hooking up in the hallway, they ALL have hormones.
I argue that most teens know how to use a condom better than adults, the problem comes in with how young people are defining love, relationships, respect and sexuality. The longer I work in this industry the more I begin to believe that high STI rates and unplanned pregnancy are more an ethics and values problem then it is a lack of sexual health resources and knowledge. Instead of abstinence-only education and comprehensive sexuality education going head to head, they should actually be meeting in the middle. Youth need factual information about STI’s, condoms and pregnancy, but they also need honest discussions exploring their values. Whether those values are waiting until marriage to have sex or being truly comfortable having open relationships. Most teens aren’t even trying to learn themselves or define a code of conduct to live by. They are simply reacting to the pressure of situations they are put in. The reason why it’s not enough to hand them a condom and hope for the best, is because they aren’t critically thinking, mostly because they haven’t been taught how to do so.