The Birds & The Bees

Talking to kids about sex is a touchy subject, but ignoring it will not make it go away. It seems to me that a lot of parents turn the other way or ignore the fact that kids are sexually active earlier and earlier and are constantly bombarded with sexual images, language and ideas. I know a few parents who think that because their kid is good, that they will be immune to the forces of the media and peer pressure. While in some cases, good kids do stay out of trouble, most are just too curious to resist.

I recently read a book, The Lolita Effect, about girls who dress provocatively and how to change that tend. M Gigi Durham says in the book, “Here are some things I’ve learned from talking to girls: You can’t get pregnant if you jump up and down after intercourse. You can use a plastic sandwich bag instead of a condom-it works just as well. You don’t need to use contraception if you don’t have sex very often. If you haven’t gotten AIDS after having sex a lot, you are immune to it. Douching with Coke prevents pregnancy. Oral sex isn’t real sex.” As adult we know that these are ridiculous ideas, but to a pre-teen, they don’t seem too far fetched. I know personally at 14, a sandwich bag and a condom seemed like the same idea, so why shouldn’t they work the same?

I am especially disturbed by her discussion of ‘rainbow’ parties where teen girls put on different colors of lipstick and perform oral sex on a favored boy. I hadn’t heard of this before and I can’t imagine what kinds of implications activities like this mean. I know when I was a teen, spin the bottle was the big game, but I can’t imagine what is next if this is going on. We played spin the bottle as an experimental game, although we didn’t think of it that way, and it sort of served as a jumping off point into our adolescent relationships. If girls are doing oral sex now as a jumping off, what’s the next step?

A few of the statistics I got from the book:

Two recent U.S. surveys indicate that 1 in 5 adolescents younger than 14 has had sex and many more are engaging in oral sex.

A study showed that 58% of students at a middle school were sexually active, but 98% of their parents thought otherwise.

“The age of puberty has been steadily falling since the nineteenth century; for girls, who typically mature faster than boys, the age of first menstruation has dropped by 3 to 4 months every decade since 1850. In general, girls now enter puberty between the ages of 8 and 13.”

It’s naïve to think that kids aren’t doing the things we hope they aren’t. They are. There’s really no way to stop it from happening. The only thing you can do is talk to them. Don’t think that just because they have a sex education class that it will be enough. My experience with sex ed was a 2 week section of home economics in 8th grade, which was an optional class, so not all of us took it. It was awkward and confusing and no one asked any questions. We were shown how to put a condom on a banana and set loose. I can’t remember anything else about that class but the banana and being slightly annoyed at how stupid the class was.

It didn’t stop me in the least from experimenting with boys and, eventually, having sex at 14. As early as I started, I know that younger generations are starting even earlier. I look at girls between 11 and 15 and want to tell them. I’m afraid to say anything, but I want to. I want to shake them and tell them to wait. I know this will probably shock both of my own parents because I was a good kid. I got good grades, was quiet, creative, did what I was told and ate my vegetables. I was still a good kid at 14, but curiosity got the better of me. It’s not that I didn’t have anyone to ask about sex. My parents were open to discussing it with me and listening, I just didn’t.

We need to at least make sex as safe as possible for kids. Preaching abstinence is unrealistic. When kids are faced with a situation with their peers, they need to be equipped with the tools to make a responsible decision for themselves, whether it be not to engage in certain activities or to insist on the use of protection. Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for and are capable of making the decisions for themselves, but it’s up to us, as adults, to guide them.

~ by accordingtoleanne on December 23, 2009.

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