The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported a decrease in the use of condoms by teenagers. According to their survey, nearly half of all high school students admit to having sex, yet only 60% are using protection. Sixty percent may seem like a lot, but consider that four out of every 10 new HIV infections occurs in people under the age of 30.
Reading the CDC’s report stirred memories of 2010 when Bristol Palin got her 15 minutes of fame by encouraging teens to adopt an abstinence mentality. Originally, Ms. Palin went on record stating that abstinence was unrealistic. Later, with the burden of child care on her too young hips, she realized how unprepared she was for the changes a baby brought into her life. Perhaps, if she and Levi Johnston had used condoms all of the time, rather than "most of the time," she would not have been pining for her lost youth.
The changes in life... that's the message the CDC/parents/schools should be carrying to students everywhere. Irresponsible sex can cause devastating changes to the plans we make for our future. Goodbye college, so long spring break, adios fraternity parties and the latest designer tee shirt and jeans. Hello Burger King, dirty diapers and puke stains on your Hanes three to a pack. Oh, yes, do not forget HIV.
Let’s be honest, abstinence is not going to catch on as the next big trend. It's been years since the teenage urge to copulate surged through my body, but even back then, I knew hormones were illiterate. They don't speak our language; they can't read the bible and they don't respond well to being told "No." Hormones can rarely be controlled. They can only be contained -- within little latex balloons called condoms.
Responsible parents tell their children that they would prefer they wait until marriage to have sex. Smart parents know that's probably not going to happen. Believing your teenagers will adopt such a philosophy is naive. Kids are not being intentionally rebellious; they're just ill prepared for the power of sexual attraction.
Pro-active parents grab their little darlings by the arm, sit their butts down and talk the real talk. Wise parents never forget that kids are experts at saying what we want to hear and then doing the exact opposite. Not having experienced enough of life to know better, teens really do believe “it” won’t happen to them.
Distinguishing real love from a chemical surge is difficult for adults. Imagine how hard it must be for teenagers. With our own children, my husband and I tried to stress that sex was not shameful and was, indeed, beautiful, but its beauty was both fleeting and painful if treated too casually. We talked about birth control openly. We also talked about disease and death. The sex primer comes with lots of appendixes, and it always needs to be updated.
Everyone makes mistakes. Don't let an unwanted pregnancy and STDs be your legacy. Talk honestly with your kids. If you remain silent, you could be signing their death sentence.