The introduction to this series is here. It is about a lecture I heard sponsored by the PTA opened to parents and teens in our community.
This post is about sex and teens and tweens. The material is explicit, this is an education discussion not a titillating entertainment post.
The next installment is a related topic about sexting and sex issues relating to online social networking.
This lecture was given by a female OB - GYN doctor who practices in this suburban town and treats teens from this community and the surrounding north Houston area. Some comments were made by a police officer.
As a new person to the state of Texas I was surprised to learn that the only sex education given in the public schools is about abstinence. We were told that kids don't know about birth control or how to properly use a condom, or even that condoms are only for just one use. In Texas sex ed instruction has to be given outside of normal school hours such as at a PTA sponsored meeting like this one.
(I am torn about my feelings on this matter because I don't think that teaching kids how to use condoms and hands on practice that goes on in some public schools in other states is going too far, yet on the other hand if the kids don't know the information how are they to learn it? This is a difficult topic to come to grips with. Even concerned parents often don't feel comfortable talking to their kids so how are they to learn? Kids often tell each other wrong information so we can't trust kids to teach each other! When kids are having sex at younger ages parents can be in denial of that fact and not teach their kids thinking "their kids would never do that"!)
We were told that teens often don't know about the sexually transmitted diseases or how they are transmitted. For example some sexually transmitted diseases are spread by kissing or oral sexual practices, when some teens think the only way to spread them is intercourse. We were told that kids today think that oral sex is harmless. These diseases can be present in the mouth, throat, and eyes not just in the genital area.
Oral sex is on the rise. In another part of the lecture a police officer said his senior high school daughter said girls in this town give boys oral sex as payment for giving them a ride home. Oral sex is seen as no big deal by today's teens and tweens.
Parents might think they need to talk about intercourse and pregnancy but they often don't discuss anal sex, oral sex, and mutual masturbation or same sex relations. Today's kids are doing those things so they need to be educated about it by someone, and that falls to the parents in this state.
Oral sex is treated very casually by kids, they think nothing of it, and it is common.
Anal sex is on the rise, seen as a fun practice that you won't get pregnant doing. This is not the same practice as when the parents were young!
We heard about sexually transmitted diseases and it was a too rapidly given presentation where not much was said that was listed on the slide presentation and there was not even enough time for my eyes to read it all before the doctor moved to the next screen.
Bring your daughter in for her first visit to an OB-GYN when her friends are having sex. She may tell you her friends are sexually active but say she is not. Sometimes in fact she is sexually active also.
The doctor can discuss sex education with your children if you ask them to. These discussions can take place without the parent in the room. Some teens will not ask questions if their parents are in the room.
If sex is not talked about in the home girls tend to start having sex! Not talking about sex and sex facts does not mean you are helping your daughter be not sexually active.
Advice was given that girls value the opinion of their fathers. Fathers should tell their daughters they are important, loved, and beautiful. It is not gross to tell your daughter she is beautiful. This will prevent her looking for feedback about that from boys.
The doctor stated condoms are only 85% effective against pregnancy, they are not as effective as one may think.
There was discussion about birth control pills preventing pregnancy better (I insert: when taken corectly) but having sex without a barrier (condoms) means they are exposed to getting more sexually transmitted diseases.
An audience member asked why it is so easy to get a sexually transmitted disease, especially for girls, the answer is the female's body is different. If the semen carries the pathogen and sex is had without a condom, the disease is easily transmitted. It is harder to transmit from female to male although it obviously does happen, or else no males would have any diseases.
It is hard for females because often the STDs have no symptoms.
Girls need to learn how to say no. Date rape does happen. The best way to avoid date rape is to not get yourself into situations where it may happen. (I think more should have been said about this topic.)
It was said in another part of the presentation that drugs and alcohol use increases the liklihood of things going too far, unsafe sex, having sex when they were not prepared with contraceptives on hand, and other things increase when one or both partners are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The obvious was said: teach your kids about sex, STDs, pregnancy, and contraceptives.
Kids need to be taught how to use condoms. Some use them more than once, which is not safe or good or effective! If you don't use them right you can cause pregnancy! They need to know how to put them on correctly and when and how to remove them.
The doctor said that kids in our (wealthy) community feel they don't have access to buy condoms. I have a very hard time believing it. They are inexpensive and available at every gas station, convenience store, grocery store, drug store, and department store (i.e. Wal Mart). You don't need to ask for them from a store clerk, they are sold out in the open. They cost less than what kids typically spend on a snack from a coffee shop or at a fast food restaurant.
The doctor said we should help our kids have access to condoms. This was a vague-ish statement, she didn't say outright to buy condoms and hand them to our sons but if you connected the dots in the discussion that's where I interpreted it as saying.
An audience member asked to hear the legal responsibilities of a teen father. It was stated that the parents of minor aged fathers must pay child support for their babies. At eighteen the young man then picks up the financial burden of child support which continues until their offspring turns 18 years old.
However if there is no father's name on the birth certificate the financial responsibility can be harder to pursue. But, it is easy for the girl to initiate a legal action to prove paternity. It is common, simple and routine for the courts to mandate paternity testing which can prove (or disprove) who the father is.
In conclusion, parents need to know this information and teach their kids. There are a lot of sexually transmitted diseases and they are transmitted not just by intercourse but also by oral sex, anal sex, and even kissing. Kids need to be taught how to avoid getting STDs and how to avoid pregnancy, which are two different things with different options. Kids need to know contraception options which vary from injections and implants for girls to prescription pills and over the counter condoms.
Sex is everywhere, in the entertainment media of movies, TV, and music. It is in ads and print magazines and on the internet. We were told that kids are having sex younger than parents may want to believe. Sex is not just in romantic relationships, casual sex is on the rise including oral sex being very nonchalant. Anal sex is commonly done as an alternative to intercourse by teens today. Today's kids view sex much more casually than their parent's generation views sex.