Did you know that the average time between the onset of puberty and the formation of a committed sexual relationship is longer now that it has ever been in human history?
That's a lot of years to be expected to just say no. Today our children are quite different biologically from those in the past. Our improved diets, artificial light, decreased physical activity, and the explosion of sexually provocative material have resulted in earlier puberty and greater sexual activity and fertility than in the past. Unfortunately it's almost impossible to keep your child from being exposed to the overly sexualized media content. It is estimated that on average children view about 14,000 sexual references per year. Sex and sexual innuendo on TV rarely show the adverse consequences of irresponsible sexual behavior.
My daughter a medical student shadowed an OG-GYN doctor in an inner city clinic. She was shocked to learn this doctor spent 75% of her day with girls under the age of 18. These girls were either pregnant, had contacted an STD or has a serious infections. The doctor told her the best she could do was prescribing appropriate medication and warning these young girls about the dangers of future unprotected sex. She expected to see most of them back with more serious complications.
Children feel the sex drive in their bodies long before they are psychologically ready to commit to the demands of a mature relationship. Until we can educate our children that sex is natural and not shameful we will be dealing with the consequences of reckless and unprotected sex.
Today in our schools there is no dedicated funding toward comprehensive sex education. The type of content presented to our children does not educate them on male and female anatomy, contraceptives and disease. Children need to understand how their bodies respond sexually and girls need to learn how their bodies are connected both physically and emotionally to all phases of their menstrual cycles.
All adolescent girls need to know:
o How to value themselves and their bodies, including their capacity for pleasure. The discussion about pleasure is an almost taboo subject. Approaching this subject is uncomfortable. The best approach is to help a daughter understand that sexual energy is natural and part of being human. Girls should not feel guilt about having sexual thoughts. It is normal and appropriate for girls to masturbate. The life force that finds expression through orgasm is actually the basis for one's bodily energy, health and vitality. Girls who learn this are better prepared not to compromise themselves in casual sexual encounters.
o The sexuality - spirituality connection. There's a critical difference both biochemically and neurologically between having sex as an extension of an emotional bond and having casual sex with someone you don't really care about. Girls need sufficient self-esteem to experience this solid loving connection.
o The facts about male and female sexual anatomy. First understanding not just the mechanics of their own menstrual cycle but the different phases and the accompanying emotional and physical changes that occur during the month. Too often girls are told having a cycle means they are a woman. It takes time to awaken the feminine life force of this cycle and girls should be given the right information to understand what this means. Girls need to know that their bodies are part of a miraculous process.
o The facts about how to prevent pregnancy and protect themselves against sexually transmitted disease. This information has never been shown to increase the likelihood of a teenagers having sex. Many teens define sex as intercourse and don't understand that oral sex is sex. STD's can be transmitted during oral sex including HIV and AIDS. Girls who succumb to the pressure of providing oral sex to earn popularity and acceptance will discover our culture's double standard and their own devalued status.
The best lesson for teens is to learn their bodies are their own. Knowledge is power; all teens deserve a solid sex education because sex is an inevitable part of their lives. Parents can be their children's first teacher and also the best advocates for promoting the right kind of education in school. Don't let a vocal minority doom your children to ignorance and abuse.