Bad news, friends. Condom use among teens is down.
In 2003, 63% of teens who reported having sex also reported using protection. Which is far from perfect, but considering the circumstances of sex ed during my generation, it’s not half bad.
Well, now we’re down to 59%.
What could be the reason for the change? One interesting opinion is that it could be that teens in 2003 had grown up hearing about and being affected by the AIDS epidemic— so they knew that not using a condom could be the difference between life and death. Now that there are so many ways to prevent catching HIV (from Truvada to the intravaginal ring and even to recent studies involving soy sauce), the teens of today may not realize that there are other inherent risks involved in having unprotected sex– unwanted pregnancy and other STDs, including HPV which can lead to cancer.
The other reason could be the prevalence of abstinence-only sex education. The political implications of endorsing abstinence-only sex ed have never been higher– which means that people are clinging to this backwards notion that telling kids not to have sex is going to stop them from hooking up like magnets to a fridge.
But this study wasn’t without good news. The rate of teens having sex is also down– not that it helps the above statistic since it’s taken from teens who are having sex. But more teenagers are waiting to have sex, which doesn’t mean that they’re waiting until marriage. It means that they’re waiting until they’re mature enough to know the implications of their decisions and deal with the potential consequences. Which is awesome.
More and more schools are making condoms freely available, especially in urban areas. Plus, we know that teen pregnancy is down, so in spite of this little hiccup, we’re still moving in the right direction. Supporting and encouraging safe sex is only going to make teen pregnancy and STD rates a thing of the past.
How can you help? If you’re a parent, be open with your teen about safe sex. You may not want them to be having it, but there’s a high chance that they’re going to need that knowledge eventually. Check out how to talk to your teens about sex and encourage them to ask questions– if not from you, then from someone with reliable information, like their school nurse or their doctor. You can even send them here.
If you’re not a parent, you can still help out by supporting the ban of abstinence-only sex ed in your local community. Keep the conversation of sex positivity open in your community, and challenge that belief that abstinence is the only way to prevent pregnancy and STDs.
And if you’re a teen yourself, you’ve come to the right place to get educated. Here are some articles that can help you with the big questions.
Before you have sex:
- Help! I’m Having Sex For The First Time!
- First-Time Buyers Guide For Condoms
- How Do I Ask My Partner To Wear a Condom?
- How To Use a Male Condom
- How To Use a Female Condom
- Guide To Personal Lubricants
- How To Measure Yourself
- Stay Safe While Wearing Less
If you have an accident:
- The Danger of Crisis Pregnancy Centers
- A Condom Broke! What Do I Do?
- Everything You Need To Know About Birth Control
- Emergency Contraception
And remember, if you don’t see your question posted on our site (no matter how big or small it is), ask us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
[Source: Live Science]