REALITY CHECK: WHAT ARE THE FACTS ON TEEN SEXUALITY?

Autor: ---- Fuente: Family Facts

For decades, the message sent to adolescents by media and schools is that there is no necessary harm from premarital sexual activity, and in fact, sexual activity is part of a full and enjoyable adolescence. Many teens are coming to realize that this message is untrue and dangerous. Below are some myths and realities that can be used to encourage Canadian teens to refrain from sexual activity until marriage.




MYTH #1

Teens are going to have sex regardless of what they are taught, so we might as well teach them how to have 'safe' sex.

REALITY

More than half of teens do abstain from premarital sexual activity, and abstinence education can be effective in preventing such activity.

According to Reginald Bibby's recent study of Canadian teens, 51% of teens, including 47% of girls do not engage in sex. Only 36% had sex once a month or more. [1]

Many abstinence-only programs have been shown to be very effective in delaying sexual activity in teens. For instance, after participating in the Loving Well program 92% of students were still abstinent two years after the program, compared to only 72% of students who were abstinent at the beginning of the test period but did not participate in the program. [2] Another successful program, Best Friends, focuses on character building in teenage girls. An American study in 1995, found only 5% of girls who participated in the program became sexually active by the end of high school compared to 63% of the females who had not been exposed to the curriculum and did become sexually involved. [3]

The signing of abstinence pledges has become popular in the United States and around the world and such pledges have been shown to significantly reduce a teen's chances of engaging in premarital sex. One study found that even after personal characteristics such as religiosity were factored out, pledgers were 34% less likely to have initiated a sexual relationship by follow-up than those in a control group. [4]




MYTH #2

Sex outside of marriage can be made 'safe'.

REALITY

A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found there was insufficient evidence to claim that condoms are effective in preventing six STIs including chlamydia, and gonorrhea in women, although condoms were shown to have some effect in preventing gonorrhea transmission to males. [5]

Young teenagers are who are told that this little latex device is safe and reliable may not know that they are risking illness, infertility, and even death. Why are we settling for risk reduction when we can have risk elimination? [6]




MYTH #3

"Safe sex" programs are effective in reducing teen pregnancy, abortion, incidence of HIV infections and other STIs.

REALITY

Many studies have concluded that teaching methods of birth control and disease prevention other than abstinence can actually lower the age of first intercourse and increase the frequency of premarital sex and the incidence of teen pregnancy:

> The U.S. Physicians Resource Council's report of adolescent sexuality in the 1990s concluded that while condom use among sexually experienced teens girls had increased significantly over the 1990s, the out-of-wedlock birthrate for this same group increased dramatically. [7]

> In one study, students were exposed to an exhaustive 10-week human sexuality course which included information on AIDS and the most common STIs. After the program, the students "did not decrease the number of vaginal sexual partners, use condoms more, or wait longer before beginning sex with a new partner" in comparison the control group. In conclusion, "reduction of risky sexual behavior did not occur in spite of the fact that the subjects worried more than before and had more accurate knowledge about AIDS-including instructions on ways to decrease their risk of contracting HIV." [8]

> In Seattle, a high school condom distribution program was followed by a reduction in condom use by sexually experienced students. The reduction of condom use was most apparent among students of the schools that had distributed the most condoms. [9]




MYTH #4

Most cases of teenage pregnancy and teenage sexually transmitted infections (STI) are a result of teen-to-teen sexual activity.

REALITY

The majority of teen sex problems are a result of teenage sexual contact with adults.

More than 60% of teen pregnancies are a result of a relationship with an adult of at least 20 years of age. More than two-thirds of STI cases in teens and more than 90% of teenage HIV cases are a result of contact with an adult. 47 percent of junior high births involved adult partners who were past school-age. [10]




MYTH #5

It is illegal for a man in his fifties to engage in a sexual relationship with a child of 14 years.

REALITY

Canada's age of consent law allows for 14 year olds to have a relationship with any older person as long as the adult is not in a position of trust over the young person (e.g. is not the child's teacher or parent).

Canadians clearly want the age of consent to be raised. In a Pollara survey, 80% of respondents expressed a desire for the age of consent to be raised to 16 or higher. [11] However, the Justice Department has refused. At a meeting of Canada's justice ministers in the fall of 2002, provincial justice ministers pleaded with Minister Martin Cauchon to change the law, but the Minister still would not comply.




MYTH #6

Abstinence education programs teach solely about abstaining from sexual activity.

REALITY

Many of the most successful abstinence programs teach general life, decision-making and communication skills.

Abstinence programs are often called 'Character Education' as they include such topics as formulating goals, maximizing communication, strengthening relationships, understanding peer pressure, aspiring to marriage, and understanding parenthood. [12]Character education attempts to encourage students to think about the consequences of their actions and instill in them a sense of responsibility to those around them.

One program that did not even deal with sexual behaviour itself was shown to be very effective in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies and sex partners in the Seattle students to whom it was presented. The program focused on encouraging students to do well academically and to deal well with others. [13] The authors hypothesized that the reason this program was successful was because it created attachment to school which led to students becoming less likely to risk their school careers.




MYTH #7

Parents cannot make much of an impact on their teens' decision of when to first engage in sexual activity.

REALITY

Parents, and parenting style, play a pivotal role in a teen's decision to become sexually active.

A study in Philadelphia in the mid 1990s showed that the stronger an adolescent's belief that his/her mother is opposed to premarital sex, the less likely the teen to engage in intercourse. [14] On the other hand, the more a mother spoke to her child about birth control, the more likely a teen was to have engaged in premarital sex.

Furthermore, adolescents who classified their parents as strict were less likely to have sexual experience and a permissive attitude than those who considered their parents to be moderately strict and even less active than those who did not view their parents to be strict at all. [15]

Encouraging religious involvement can also decrease a teen's chance of becoming involved in premarital sex. Those who attend religious services are the least sexually experienced. [16]




CONCLUSION

While many of the statistics regarding teenage sexual activity are discouraging at this time, the facts above show that there are also many reasons for optimism. Parental intervention and character education show much promise and need to be explored to discover how they can be applied to have the maximum impact.

http://www.fotf.ca/familyfacts/analysis/030303_rcteensexuality.html
 
 
 
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