A teenager may not have the vision to realize that present-day decisions can be important. When teenagers engage in sexual risk-taking behavior, the consequences can be serious and far-reaching into the future. By communicating the inherent risks of sexual activity and behavior with your teenager, you help your teen make healthier and safer decisions.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
When teenagers engage in sexual activity, many forgo the use of condoms, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 40 percent of sexually active teenagers did not use condoms during sexual activity. Unprotected sex places teenager at a risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Adolescents between ages 15 and 19 are more at risk for contracting an STD and people between the ages of 15 and 24 contract almost half of all new cases of sexually-transmitted disease.
Although teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. have declined, some states and some ethnic groups still exhibit significant incidences of teenage pregnancy, states Kathryn Kost and Stanley Henshaw, authors of a report published by the Guttmacher Institute. For example, the pregnancy rate for non-Hispanic white teenagers ranges between 58 and 70 births per 1,000 for teens between ages 15 and 19 in southern states. Pregnancy rates for black teenagers between ages 15 and 19 ranges between 122 and 161 per 1,000 in Delaware, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.
Violence and Abuse
When teenagers participate in dating relationships, abuse or violence is a common theme, states the Washington State Office of the Attorney General. Approximately two-thirds of teenagers engaging in sexual activity by 14 years of age report some type of abuse experience in a relationship. While a teenager may easily recognize physical abuse, emotional abuse can be more subtle. Emotional abuse includes insults, accusations, humiliation, possessiveness, threats, overdependence and isolation, according to the Violence Against Women website. Sexual abuse includes pressure for sex, threats to coerce sex, unwanted physical contact and forced sexual activity.
Sexual activity generally involves not only physical feelings, but emotional feelings as well, states Thomas Lickona, with the Catholic Education Resource Center. When a teenager engages in intimate activity, some emotional turmoil can hit hard. A teenager may feel regret and guilt about the behavior, stress about negative consequences and a loss of self-esteem and reduced self-respect. It’s even possible for this emotional turmoil to lead to further risk-taking behavior.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sexual Risk Behavior: HIV, STD, & Teen Pregnancy Prevention
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2011
- Guttmacher Institute: U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity
- Washington State Office of the Attorney General: Teen Dating Violence
- Violence Against Women: The Facts about Teen Dating Violence
- Catholic Education Resource Center: The Neglected Heart: The Emotional Dangers of Premature Sexual Involvement
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images