Answering Teens about Sex and Abstinence

Question

I was reading the teen ask section and surprised to see that some of the teens never got answers to their questions. Instead they were given speeches on abstinence.
If a teen is coming to you for information, the least you could do is give them the information they ask for…instead of advice they might not necessarily be asking for!

I had sex at 16, and I do not regret in the least. I was in a serious relationship, and it was my first love. Luckily for me, my mother was open to discussion and provided me with the information I needed. I am now 26, and I have a beautiful baby girl. I have never had a STD, nor did I ever have unprotected sex. I am basically saying all of this to show you that teenagers can be smart about sex if you provide them with the necessary information.

Sorry for venting, but I was a little upset when I read your “so-called answers” that did not answer anything!

Anonymous!

Answer

Last Updated: June 17, 2013
Dear Anonymous,

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter! And thank you for taking the time to share your experience and opinion.

I think it would be clear to people reading our responses to teens that we are trying to provide information that will help them make good decisions. It is not the ideal setting, to say the least, to do that in response to an anonymous question over the internet, with only the info provided. We cannot ask questions, dialogue, or establish a relationship. We can only take the information provided us, do our best to assess the situation, and then provide a response that might provide the inquirer with information that might help them pursue a healthy solution to their dilemma.

You may not agree with our experts, on this or other topics, but experience and research shows that engaging in sex outside of marriage, at an early age, and with multiple partners puts a person at risk for STD’s, pregnancy, and emotional pain.

Allow me to make an analogy. If a teen contacts us and asks which is a better way to commit suicide, gun or pills, we would certainly not provide the information requested. We would, of course, instead respond to the unspoken question—-what is going on in their lives that has led them to believe life is not worth living? We would encourage them to discuss their pain with their parents, or another respected adult, and refer them to appropriate professional resources. We would assure them life IS worth living, and though their problems may seem insurmountable, with help they can make a better choice. Some might accuse us of lecturing the teen, and not answering the question. We certainly would have to plead GUILTY to not answering the question they posed, but oftentimes it is the question between the lines, the cry for help, that is really begging for a response.

I re-read our responses to teens on our website when I received your inquiry, and I think it is interesting that you accuse us of not answering their questions. I see responses that are very informative. I see information from our experts in response to questions about side effects of the pill and patch, bursting condoms, concerns about possibility of pregnancy, what to expect at gynecological exam, etc etc. I also applaud our experts for addressing the state of mind of these teens, who are pleading for help because they are scared and anxious. I am wondering if you cannot hear the anxiety in their questions, or if you are of the opinion that a condom or prescription will “cure” them or “protect” them. In most cases, they are contacting us with questions BECAUSE of the failure or side effects of their “protection”.

These teens would not be living in fear of pregnancy month to month, if they were abstinent. It IS answering their question to provide them information and support that will free them from the cycle of anxiety and fear they are experiencing.

Our experts try very hard not to sound like we are lecturing or preaching to people who come to us for help, teens or not! We do have a responsibility to speak the truth to people who come to us. Some day if your baby girl comes to us, as did one of our teen inquirers, saying she was scared to talk to her mom, we will give her the same advice one of our experts gave that teen: “As difficult as it may seem to speak to your mom, all it takes is the first sentence… listen…ask…share feelings…ask more……and then emotional anxiety gone! You will be able to ask and confide in someone that truly has your best interest at heart.”

Answered By:

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