Dr. Robin G. Sawyer, Teens & Us: Human Sexuality and Adolescent Health
Teens & Us – We are in this together!
Robin G. Sawyer, Ph.D.
University of Maryland School of Public Health
Dr. Sawyer teaches courses in human sexuality and adolescent health and is the author of the book Beyond the Birds and the Bees – How parents can discuss sexuality with their children. Dr. Sawyer is the father of four girls. These notes reflect the views of Dr. Sawyer, not necessarily the PCW.
Introduction: Growing Up Today
Trends in Teen Sexuality
Sexuality Education Myths
Parents Can Make a Difference
Introduction: Growing up Today
We are not living in the same world as our children – Kids are growing up in a hyper sexualized world. The 60s were nothing compared to today. We have the Internet, cable television, explicit lyrics in music, etc. Some influences you may not think about include:
Advertising to Teens – Abercrombie & Fitch – they are selling sex and these types of ads have become the norm for teenagers today.
ED Advertising (Erectile Dysfunction) is all over the television.
Emergency Contraception OTC – morning after pills are now available.
Facebook – what is it about this culture/generation that wants to share everything with everyone?
Cable TV – the range of the programs offered today exceed anything available 20 years ago.
Music – very sexually explicit lyrics.
Vaccine against cervical cancer – gardisil/cervarix – do you or don’t you have your daughter vaccinated? Some parents worry this might promote sexual activity.
Sex & Technology
Cellphones and texting have changed everything in the dating world for kids and adults as well.
• 37% of girls and 60% of boys report sending sexually detailed texts.
• 22% of teen girls and 18% of teen boys have sent nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves.
There is nothing in the world you can do to prevent your children from having sex. You can delay it so take a practical approach and let yourself off the hook.
Teen Sexuality –What’s Going On
Talking – Hanging Out – Hooking Up
What do these terms mean? Some of these terms have various meanings.
This generation doesn’t really date anymore they just hangout or hookup. This new vocabulary makes having sex seem like a less extreme option.
Say What? That’s Not Sex?
This generation has redefined what sex is. 100% of college students polled said that “oral sex” isn’t sex. Perhaps this makes them feel better about sexual activity they know is not acceptable.
• 83% of parents believed their teen had not engaged in sexual activity beyond kissing….but 27% of teens reported “having been more intimate with someone,” and 21% reported having “touched someone’s genitals or private parts.”
• 47% of parents strongly or somewhat strongly agreed with the statement “for teens oral sex is not as big a deal as sexual intercourse,” compared with 75% of teens.
• While 42% of parents reported talking about sexuality “very often” with their teens, only 11% of teens agreed that these conversations took place “very often.”
Trends in Teen Sexual Behavior
10-year decline in teen intercourse between 2001-2007 has leveled off
• Condom use is decreasing.
• From 2005 – 2007 – increase in: teens having sex before 13, and percentage of teens reporting 4 or more partners.
• 6 in 10 girls and 5 in 10 boys, by their 18th birthday, have had intercourse.
• 750,000 teen pregnancies each year in the U.S.
• 1 in 4 teens have sexually transmitted infections.
1 in 5 teens have had sex by age 15
By 12th grade 69% report having sex
By 11th grade 63% report having sex
By 10th grade 44% report having sex
By 9th grade 38% report having sex
Of those teens reporting having sexual intercourse the number that used contraception?
36% every time
6% almost every time
8% most of the time
7% only sometimes
1% hardly ever
Ever had oral sex to avoid having sexual intercourse
YES – 40%
NO – 60%
Teens who have more unsupervised hours report greater sexual activity
56% last had sex on a weekday
18% had sex before 3 pm
17% between the hours of 3 – 6 pm – parents at work
75% males and 87% females last had sex in their own or parents’ home
Statistics show that young women who engage in sports have lower rates of teen pregnancy.
Sexuality Education Myths
What they don’t know
• Sex leads to pregnancy
• Implications of unprotected sex
• Signs and timing of pregnancy
• Information about emergency contraception
Parents CAN make a difference
• Most teens say parents influence their decisions about sex more than their peers – they DO hear you!
• Most parents believe teen’s friends are the biggest influence
• 59% of Teens said their parents are their role models for “healthy relationships”
• 88% of teens say postponing sexual activity is easier if they have open, honest conversations with their parents
• Nearly 1 in 4 teens have never discussed sex, contraception, or pregnancy with their parents
• “Don’t ask if you can’t deal with the response” – parents need to have a good connection with their kids
Why teens don’t talk to their parents about sex?
• Teens worry about their parent’s reaction
• Teens worry parents think they are having sex even if they are just asking some questions
• Believe that parents won’t understand
“You are too young”
“Where did you hear that?”
“If you say that word again…”
“None of your business”
“I don’t care what your friends are doing”
“What do you think?”
“I don’t know but I will find out”
“I’m so glad you told me about that”
“Tell me what you think that word means”
“I am trying to understand what you are feeling”
Major Protective Factors
Not dating someone much older/younger
No steady relationships
Having open communication with parents
Receiving meaningful sexual education
Active in sports/activities
Not perceiving majority of peers is sexually active
Zero or minimal use of alcohol and/or other drugs
10 Tips for Parents
1. Be clear about your own sexual values
2. Talk with children early and often about sex
3. Supervise and monitor children and teens – do you know where they are?
4. Know your kid’s friends and their families
5. Discourage early, frequent, and steady dating
6. Discourage your child dating someone older
7. Focus on an option that is more attractive than parenthood
8. Let kids know that you value education
9. Know what kids are listening to, reading and watching
10. Involve your children in your activities