If you listen to a lot of the chatter out there, it would seem as if sexually active teens were the equivalent to lighted sticks of dynamite: disasters waiting to happen (as illustrated by Gossip Girl).
There are a few reasons people feel this way:
One is the moral belief that sex should only happen between a married man and woman. This logic holds that since most teens aren’t married, they shouldn’t be having sex.
Another is that people worry about teens’ emotional states. They fear that teens are too immature to handle sex and will be devastated when things don’t go as they planned.
Then there are serious health concerns. Teen pregnancy and the risk of contracting an STD are often cited as good reasons to urge teens not to have sex.
Now I can’t speak to the first issue. Everyone’s morals are different and I don’t want to try to change someone else’s beliefs just because I don’t share them. I do, however, have some ideas about the other two points.
When it comes to emotions, it’s true that a lot of teens get messed up when sex doesn’t turn out the way they thought it would. Or if a relationship doesn’t materialize after sex, or ends because of it.
However, this view lumps all teens together and doesn’t see them as individuals. Teens who feel better about themselves and have high self esteem are more likely to make good choices about sex than teens who don’t.
One example is my friend Iris. Iris was close with her parents, felt good about herself and first had sex at sixteen. The guy was Mike, her boyfriend of a year. He was in her grade and they were crazy about each other (and actually got married after a ten year break up!). Iris gushed about the experience at the time saying, “It was so great. It didn’t hurt at all and I even had an orgasm!”
Years later she told me that she was really happy to have become sexually active when she did. “Being with Mike showed me how good sex could be and that I should expect guys to be considerate, fun and creative in bed."
So what about the disease and pregnancy issue? We all know how bleak the American stats are on this front. So wouldn’t it be best if teens never had sex?
For the most part, both pregnancy and STDs are preventable. Kids who have access to condoms, birth control and health care are going to face these issue a lot less frequently than those who don’t. And if they do end up in a bad spot? Well, a teen who can see a doctor easily will sure be able to deal with the situation better than a kid who can’t.
Really, many of the crises related to young people, STDs and pregnancy, are the result of problems with the American health care and sex education systems, and not due to problems inherent to teen sex.
Sex sure isn’t the right choice for all teens. But it also isn’t always the wrong one and it seems silly to pretend that all sexual experiences between teens will be disastrous.
Of course, if you are thinking about having sex, the more you know about the subject, the better. One good way to make your decision is to go through a checklist like the one Scarleteen created. Because the more prepared you are, and the more thought you’ve given your decision, the more likely you are to have a positive, safe and healthy experience. And that’s something everyone who is sexually active deserves.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree?