Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Too Young for Sex?
A recent report stated a small percentage of 12 year old children are engaging in risky sexual behaviors. The Journal of School Health April 2009 issue reports further that by the age of 12, 12% of kids had engaged in vaginal sex, 7.9% in oral sex and 6.5% in anal sex. Among those children who were sexually active 25% reported 4 or more partners. A third of the sexually active kids also reported having vaginal or anal sex without a condom in the past 3 months. Only 2% had had oral sex without also engaging in vaginal sex. If you are picking your jaw up off the floor about now, you are in good company. Parents typically do not have the "talk" with their children until they are 13, if at all. Girls get the talk sooner than boys, who may not get any information beyond the mechanics of sex. It is vital to the safety of our children they get information they need to protect themselves and others from unwanted pregnancy, disease and the emotional issues that go with a sexual relationship. Casual or not, sex carries with it responsibilities and emotions children are not yet wired to handle. The American Academy of Pediatrics says sex education that includes information on both abstinence and birth control is the most effective. When talking with a child about sex, it is important for them to know it is a natural part of development, not something embarrassing or dirty. Kids need to feel it is okay to come to you with questions or observations about sex and what they are exposed to. Facts are great, but kids need to hear about where you are with this issue. Is it okay to have sex before marriage? How about casual sex? You need to know what a "friend with benefits" is and how you feel about that. Teens listen to what you say more than you think they do and it does have an impact. If you don't know how to start this conversation, ask a friend with kids, or your doctor. School counselors can also be good coaches. Above all, if you can't be comfortable talking to your child about sex, find a trusted adult who can take on this role for your kiddos. The worst thing they can have is no adult direction. They are then at the mercy of all the sage advisers you see hanging around outside the schools, or worse yet, what they think everyone else is doing. For more info check out http//:www.smhc.org