Today's teenager is faced with sexualized information at every turn. From magazines, television, the Internet and friends, sexuality is a constant topic that seems to be increasing. The teenager needs to understand her value and have goals in place when the issue of sexuality arises. Parents have to keep abreast of teen issues in society, to talk candidly and honestly about the topic of sexuality. Communicate with your teen to provide guidance and to be a listening ear so she isn't alone to navigate this onslaught of information.
Some teens begin puberty in their pre-teen years, or are just starting this stage. This is a time of many physical and hormonal changes. A teen could experience low self-esteem due to her body image. Teenagers crave acceptance from friends and do not want to stand out. She may constantly look for confirmation from the outside, comparing herself to images in the media. It could prove detrimental for the teen to strive for a slanted image of beauty, if she engages in unnatural methods to alter her image.
With dating, can come peer pressure to engage in sexual activities. This is a time that parents need to highly monitor their child's whereabouts. Dating is not only taking place on weekend nights. Teens also find time to socialize in the afternoons and evenings after school, while parents work. It's important for parents to know the teen's friends and have the friends' contact information. With the popularity of social media, supervising your teen's actions is more of a challenge. Most teens make plans to meet up using social media and through text messaging. Place the computer in a central space in your home, so it isn't in the teen's bedroom. Also teens should have a certain time to turn off cell phones at night. When your teen does go out, have an agreed upon curfew in place.
Teenage pregnancy is a problem that permanently affects the lives of both the mother and father. The National Conference of State Legislatures states, "The pregnancy rate for women aged 18 to 19 is three times higher than that of younger teens." Being a teen mother makes it difficult to continue an education, with only 40 percent completing high school. The possibility of unprotected sex leading to pregnancy, should be discussed early in the home. Both girls and boys need a plan in place to avoid being caught off guard and pressured.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Abstinence and safe sex education are necessary to inform teens about sexually transmitted diseases, whether the teen is sexually active or not. Stephanie Watson of Web MD says, "Half of all sexually active teens will catch chlamydia, herpes, or another STD by the time they turn 25." It is sometimes not possible to look at someone and know if they have an STD, since the symptoms are not always physical. If the teen does not feel comfortable discussing these issues with a parent, she should find another adult that she trusts to talk with. Remaining silent could cause ignorance to continue or an illness to become worse.
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