It's too soon to call it a sexual counterrevolution, but a growing number of teenagers appear to be saying "no" to early sexual activity and its consequences. For the sixth year in a row, births to teenage mothers declined. In , according to new figures released by the federal government and other studies, the drop is at least partially due to fewer teenagers engaging in sex, particularly in their early teen years. Ironically, this trend occurs at a time when all too many adults have given up trying to discourage teenagers from having sex. For years, the sexperts have been telling us that a "just-say-no" approach will never work when it comes to teen sex, and Baby Boomer parents have largely bought the line. But new evidence suggests that parents' behavior and attitudes can be the most important factors in determining whether their kids have sex or become pregnant. Maybe it's time for some straight talk with parents about their role in preventing teen sex.
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The following tips and strategies can help. Kids have different questions and concerns about sex at different ages. As your child gets older, the things you talk about will change. Remember to:. Parents are the most important influence on a teen's decisions about sex and relationships — even more important than friends, siblings, or the media. Most teens say that it would be easier to make decisions about sex if they could talk openly and honestly with their parents. Teens who talk with their parents about sex are more likely to put off having sex until they are older. They are also more likely to make healthy choices, like using condoms to prevent pregnancy and STDs sexually transmitted diseases , if they do choose to have sex. Use the correct names for private body parts.
Are You Ready for Sex?
All teens have sexual lives, whether with others or through fantasies. An important part of adolescence is thinking about and experimenting with aspects of your sexuality. This will help you to grow and discover who you are. An important part of your sexuality is physical changes your body goes through, for example, puberty, which includes the onset of the first menstrual period for girls, and the first emission of semen for boys. Because of changes in nutrition, these changes in your bodies occur at earlier ages than they did for your parents. Many teens are physically ready for sexual activity before they are emotionally ready. It is important to think, learn, and plan for sexual activity. There are many risks connected with sexual activity, including healthy ones -- for example, feeling close to another person, enjoying physical pleasure, and learning about yourself; and unhealthy ones -- for example, becoming pregnant or getting someone else pregnant; or catching a sexually transmitted disease such as herpes, venereal warts, or HIV, among others.
For teens, the mere thought of sex can be overwhelming. There is so much to think about, so much to worry about, and so much that can go wrong. Whether you are sexually active or not, it's important to know the facts about what sex is , what it is not, how to protect yourself, and how to prepare for and enjoy it, both physically and emotionally. Society, in general, makes so much of sex that it's important for you to separate the hype from reality. It's not:. If you are or are considering becoming sexually active, you probably have a few questions , and it's important that you get accurate information.