Teen Sexuality Resources
By David A. Peters, MFT
According to a national survey released in December of 2002, almost two thirds of adolescents who have had sexual relations wish they had waited longer. The survey, With One Voice 2002: America's Adults and Teens Sound Off About Teen Pregnancy, interviewed over 1000 teenagers and over 1000 adults, and was published by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The survey also found that 69% of teens interviewed agreed "it would be much easier for them to postpone sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open and honest conversations about these topics with their parents."
So what is a concerned parent to do? Prepare to talk! Parents who are actively engaged in their adolescents' lives can have significant influence on the youngsters sexual experimentation. If you let your local school do the job, you may find that your teenager is merely being given biological facts and figures labeled "sex education" without any guidance on responsible behavior. Or they may be getting an "abstinence only" education, that leaves them with with dangerously little knowledge on their sexual development. Our schools have unfortunately become battle grounds of political and religious interest groups that are often not well informed. Teachers have a terrible time determining how to proceed.
But you can solve the whole problem by getting involved in your teen's development. And you don't have to choose between extreme "liberal" or "conservative" political camps. A growing body of research suggests that adolescents are best served by behavioral skills-oriented sex education programs that emphasize delaying sexual intimacy until adulthood and comprehensive sexuality education. Your local school is not likely to be offering this. But you can. Of course, some resources would be helpful in this regard. Unfortunately, most of the books and websites available still take extreme positions from the opposing political camps.
To aid in your preparation, I've located some quality websites produced for teens and parents that seem to offer a balanced and rational approach to teen sexuality. You may not be comfortable with all you find, so browse them all and find what is most helpful to you, and which ones you would like your teen to be browsing.
www.kidshealth.org - Kids Health, with sections for both parents and teens. Lots of information.
www.worththewait.org - Entertaining, rational, informative, abstinence oriented education.
www.friendsfirst.org - Has a "chat room" for teens discussing abstinence. A section for parents too. Also offering programs that can be presented in your community.
www.cfoc.org - The website of Campaign For Our Children. Resources for teens, parents, educators, and whole communities.
www.youthdevelopment.org - The Institute for Youth Development. Covering a wide range of issues for parents of teens, including sexuality.
www.teenpregnancy.org - The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. This site is research oriented, for parents and health professionals.
www.siecus.org - The Sexuality Information & Education Council of the United States
www.agi-usa.org - The Alan Guttmacher Institute
www.focusas.com/SexualBehavior.html - Focus Adolescent Services
www.teenadvice.about.com/cs/abstinence/ - This section of a larger teen-oriented website offers information for teens who choose not to have sex.
You can read the full results of the survey, With One Voice 2002, at www.teenpregnancy.org.