Teaching Responsible Sexual Behavior
Why Teach Teens to Wait?
Left alone, with no parental guidance, most teens will become sexually active. With so much emphasis on sex coming from so many directions—TV, movies, music, peers etc.—teens are bombarded each day with countless messages promoting early sexual activity without mentioning the consequences.
In fact, it can be pretty dangerous our there, especially when our children do not learn about the physical and emotional damage that can occur from premature sexual activity. Abstinence works, 100 percent of the time. Abstinence prevents STDs, 100 percent. Abstinence prevents pregnancy, 100 percent. At the same time, it empowers kids to make healthy decisions.
Like most parents today, you might think it's best for your teen to delay sexual activity until marriage. It's also easy to think that, these days, sexual abstinence is simply "not realistic"—that no teen in today's world could do such a thing.
Most popular television shows, most TV news and information broadcasts, and most major newspapers teach or imply that:
- Teens will have sex no matter what.
- You should teach your teens how to use condoms.
- You should teach your teenager about "responsible" ways to experiment sexually, short of actual intercourse.
With this agenda, abstinence sounds more than a little ridiculous, doesn't it? Yet, those are the essential messages that many parents and teens are receiving today.
Many of these messages are simply not true.
In fact, abstinence is at least as popular as sex among teenagers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior survey for 2001, more than half (54 percent) of high school students had never had sex. Only about a third (33 percent) of students responded that they were "currently sexually active"—that is, that they had had sexual intercourse with one or more persons in the preceding three months.
Among the "in-between" results are the 26.7 percent of respondents who said they had had a sexual encounter in the past but had not had sex in the previous three months. An earlier CDC study, from the year 2000, found that 35.1 percent of students graduated as virgins.