The CDC’s two recent reports concerning teens and sex – revealing that 90 percent of sexually-active teens today are using contraception and that the number of teens having sex is at an all-time low -- are great news for parents who may be breathing a sigh of relief.
But, Barbara Lee, an ordained interfaith minister and author of the book Sacred Sex: Replacing the Marriage Ethic with a Sexual Ethic, says the CDC’s reports are further proof that we need to keep talking to and educating young people, realistically about sex to keep those numbers moving in the right direction.
“We need to stop cowering to the sexual repression of past generations and talk to teens about sex in a realistic way,” Lee says.
“If we stop relying on abstinence-only education and keep talking realistically about sex, these low rates of teens having sex can go even lower and the high rates of teens using contraception can keep rising. But we need to keep talking,” Lee says.
Some of Lee’s suggestions for talking to teens about sex:
- Move beyond the fear that talking about sex or teaching about sex encourages teens to have indiscriminate sex. It does the opposite.
- Stop telling teens that sex is a sin, but rather that it is a gift of God.
- Talk about sex as much and as often as possible – don’t hold back – because talking to teens about sex openly and honestly actually reduces the rates of teen sexual activity.
- Answer teens’ questions about sex candidly and honestly.
- Having an honest conversation with teens about sex gives them a sense of control and ownership over their own bodies and their own sexual decisions.
- Teens are much wiser than we often give them credit for, so trust them with sexual information so that they can make informed decisions.
- Stop talking with teens about guilt and shame in the same conversation as sex.
- Continue to talk and educate teens about protecting themselves and their partners from unwanted pregnancy and diseases.
- Provide teens with access to condoms and birth controls pills.