When our kids finally start having sex (which we hope never happens because those are our babies), we want them to be safe. A study from 2011 finds that teen condom use is a lot better than it used to be (80 percent of teens report using condoms the first time they have sex) but the second time around, they’re not quite as careful. Still, there teens are having a lot fewer babies than they did before, says the new TIME report “(No) Condom Culture: Why Teens Aren’t Practicing Safe Sex”. These findings mean teens are using hormonal birth control well, but doctors are still worried because more than half of all new STI infections are in people ages 15 to 19 years old.
The problem seems to be kids worry just about getting pregnant. A Canadian survey found 54 percent of the students who use condoms use them mostly for birth control. And here in the States, people ages 15 to 24 contract STIs at four times the rate of the general population. That’s partly because the education just isn’t there. Ninety-three percent of teens say they’ve been taught about STIs but a third haven’t had any formal instruction about contraception. In fact, abstinence-only education has doubled since the 1990s, meaning about a quarter of teens don’t know anything else.
The TIME report is sobering and it reminds parents we can’t really rely on schools to keep kids safe. They have to know STIs and HIV are still out there, plenty aren’t curable and they can happen to anyone.
How do you talk to your kids about safe sex?