The Facts about Teenagers and STDs
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are particularly present in teenagers. Of the roughly 20 million new STD cases that arise each year, about 10 million are diagnosed in individuals in the 15-24 age range.
There are actually a few reasons why STDs are so routinely seen in teens and young adults, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t tools and techniques that parents can implement by having honest, genuine conversations with their children about sexual health.
PGOMG has highlighted some key tips to use as you work through how to talk to your teenager about STDs.
Talking to Your Teen
This can be a tough area for parents to cover – you want your children to be responsible and safe at all times, and acknowledging topics like intercourse and contraception are often tricky for parents. Every parent decides when and how these talks proceed, but ignoring the prevalence of teenage STDs will not ensure the safety of anyone – it is an unfortunate reality that can be prevented with the right tools and education. In order to help make this process easier on you, your partner, and your teen(s), we’ve outlined a few tips on how to talk to your teens about STDs.
1. When it comes to “the talk,” it should be parent-initiated.
It’s tempting to wait for your child to approach you about topics like sex, STDs and contraception. Most parents think, “They’ll come to me when they’re ready. I don’t want to push.” However, it’s just as difficult for teenagers to initiate these topics with their parents without worrying that they’ll be in trouble or face a lecture.
It’s a good idea to encourage an environment in which your teenager can come to you with questions, but when it comes to important topics like sexual health, parents should make the first move to get the ball rolling.
2. Questions, concerns and plans should be welcomed.
Studies show that when teenagers feel that their questions about sex are being received in an open and welcoming environment, they are more likely to communicate and less likely to engage in in high-risk sexual activity. If your teen has a question about sex, is worried about previous sexual activity, or wants to discuss contraception, like birth control, it is important that they know they will be heard and not judged. Open environments encourage future discussions.
3. Skip the lecture strategy.
Even with the best intentions, it’s easy for parents, who are used to teaching through a “lecture style,” to revert to this method for STD talks. Talking with your teen, not at them, is important. If a teen feels he or she is being lectured, then they are less likely to communicate, and more likely will only listen without contributing to the conversation.