Teens & Sex Newsbytes

Menstuff® is actively compiling newsbytes on the issue of teens and sex.

Want to see what they run on television in France?
When are we going to wake up?
We've got the highest teen pregnancy rate
in the world

Related issues: Teen Sex, Talking With Kids About Tough Issues, Teen Pregnancy, AIDS, Bacterial Vaginosis, Blue Balls, Chancroid, Chlamydia, Condoms, Contraception, Crabs, Genital Herpes, Genital Warts, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, Impotency, Masturbation, Nongonococcal Urethritis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Reproduction, STDS, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, Yeast Infection
Contraception Forms - Continuous Abstinence, Outercourse, Sterilization, Norplant, Depo-Provera, Intrauterine Device (IUD), The Pill, The Condom, Withdrawal, Diaphragm or Cervical Cap, Female Condom or Spermicide, Periodic Abstinence or Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs), Emergency Contraception, RU-486
Comprehensive List of LGBATQQI + Term Definitions
Slide Guides:
Safe Dating, STDS, AIDS
Books: Teens

Media is Number One Source for Teen's Sex Education

Teens rank TV, movies and other media as the leading sources for information about sex accorfding to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) "Sexuality, Contraception and the Media, 2001 report.

Coping With Common Period Problems

Let's face it - your period can be a pain! Many girls have to deal with stuff like PMS and cramps. To get a better grip on what's going on with your body, check out our article about period problems.
Source: www.kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/girls/menstrual_problems.html

Chastity Pledge does not reduce STD rate

Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage catch sexually transmitted diseases about as often as those who don't vow abstinence, find a study that examined the sex lives of 12,000 adolescents. Those who make the public pledge to abstain until marriage delay sex, have fewer sex partners and get married earlier, according to the data, gathered from teens ages 12 to 18 who were questioned again six years later. But the two groups' STD rates were statistically similar. One of the problems, researchers find, is that virginity "pledgers" are less likely to use condoms. "It's difficult to simultaneously prepare for sex and say you're not to have sex," says sociologist Peter Bearman of Columbia University, co-author of the study. "The message is really simple: 'Just say no' may work in the short term but doesn't work in the long term." The study was presented at the National STD Prevention Conference in Philadelphia.
Source: U.S. Today, 3/10/04


Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article for teens about birth control and find out just how effective some methods are - and others aren't.
Source: www.kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/contraception/contraception_condom.html

Does Condom Availability Increase Teen Sex?

Teen-agers at high schools where condoms were available were no more likely to have sex than other teens. Read the story and comments from a Harvard physician.
Source: www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/EMIHC251/333/33000/365044.html?d=dmtICNNews

Screening Teens For STDs

Changing physicians' behavior so they give sexually active teen-age girls a simple urine test during a routine doctor's visit is an effective way of identifying chlamydia and ultimately helping prevent infertility problems later in life, a study found. Read the story and comments from a Harvard physician.
Source: www.intelihealth.com/enews?359525

Family History Influences Sexual Behavior In Black, Hispanic Teens

Black teenagers, sons of men who became teenage fathers, were three times more likely to be sexually active compared with those whose fathers had not been teen dads, according to a new study.
Source: Center for the Advancement of Health, www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/EMIHC000/333/333/359738.html

Pill, Weight Gain Not Linked

Teenagers and young women who use birth control pills can't blame their tight jeans on the contraceptive, say researchers who have done a long-term study.
Source: www.intelihealth.com/enews?355686

Decline In Sexual Risk Behaviors Among High School Students From 1991-2001

The percentage of U.S. high school students who ever had sexual intercourse fell from 54.1 percent to 45.6 percent between 1991 and 2001, according to a new analysis of data trends by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Source: www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/EMIHC000/333/333/355861.html

Girls Come Out

Dealing with your sexuality is hard enough. But it can be even more difficult if you're a girl daydreaming about the girl in your math class, while your friends are drooling over the boys on the football team. Read Elina's and Danielle's stories about how they came out. www.teenwire.com/infocus/2002/if_20020215p149.asp

Juvenile Prisoners Need HIV Prevention Education

Juvenile detainees are at high risk for HIV infection and should be a target of prevention efforts, according to a recent study.
Source: American Journal of Public Health, www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/EMIHC276/333/24524/365062.html?d=dmtICNNews

A Guide to the Reproductive System

A lot of teens are confused about how the reproductive system works - what is that part really called? And what does it do? Do guys or girls have it? Read this article for the facts.
Source: www.kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/girls/reproductive_system.html

Waiting for the Right Time: Teen Abstinence

Why aren't the dual threats of STDs and pregnancy enough to make abstinence a no-brainer for teens? How can a young person explore his or her evolving sexuality in a healthy way? Whether you're a concerned parent or a curious teen, join us for a discussion about teen abstinence when our guest is Tamara Kreinin, president of SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States).

Tamara Kreinin is the president and CEO of The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) in New York, NY. SIECUS is a national nonprofit organization working to promote comprehensive sexuality education for people of all ages and to protect and promote the rights of individuals to make informed sexual and reproductive choices. Kreinin joined SIECUS in July of 2000.

Kreinin's experience in health and human services has spanned more than 20 years. She regularly speaks both nationally and internationally on a variety of topics including sexuality education, adolescent pregnancy prevention, welfare reform, children in poverty, child abuse prevention, and public health advocacy. She has made numerous appearances on both television and radio and is frequently quoted in national print publications

Prior to joining SIECUS, Kreinin was the director of state and local affairs at The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy in Washington, D.C. There she developed and implemented a comprehensive, strategic plan for states and local communities to reduce teen pregnancy, provided support in fund raising, and served as a national spokeswoman on adolescent sexuality issues.

SIECUS recently launched the Family Project to build and expand upon their work helping parents and caregivers talk to their children about sexuality-related issues. As part of this project, SIECUS publishes the The Families Are Talking Newsletter. Visit www.FamiliesAreTalking.org for more information.
Source: Tamara Kreinin, my.webmd.com/splash/article/3605.275

Where Do Kids Learn About Sex?

Which factors matter most to teens deciding whether to become sexually active? Peer pressure? Media images? Education? Religious background? All play a role, but new research suggests parents may have the most influence of all.

You may think they're tuning you out when the talk turns to birds and bees, but they're not, according to two studies released in April by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (NCPTP) that reinforce the role of parental advice and role-modeling in determining the sexual behavior of teens. In those studies, more teens, 38%, pointed to their parents as the biggest influence on their sexual behavior -- more than friends, the media, educators, siblings, or religious organizations.

In recognition of this, the organization urges parents to engage their children "early and often in discussions of sex, love, relationships, and values."

"A lot of parents wonder when to have 'the talk' with their kids," says Ingrid Sanden of NCPTP. "The answer is never. You have to create an environment where your kids feel comfortable coming to you when they need answers, and that means keeping things open from the time your kids are old enough to understand."

Both mom and dad need to start the dialogue early and keep the lines of communication open, she says. Many parents who are otherwise fearless when it comes to keeping their children safe become cringing, tongue-tied cowards at the thought of talking to them about sex. But it may be one of the most important steps they can take to protect them.

Parents should also establish rules and standards of expected behavior, Sanden says. They should discourage frequent and steady dating among younger teens, take a strong stand against a daughter dating a significantly older boy or a son dating a much younger girl, and emphasize the value of education.

"Parents are really important in forming their kids' values," Sanden says. "It is strange to even have to say that, but so many parents feel that they are powerless, especially with teens."
Source: Salynn Boyles

Birds and Bees Updated -- Online Help for Parents and Teens

Most parents would agree that sexuality education should begin at home -- but many would be at a loss to know how to start. Never mind how open-minded some parents think they are: Talking about sex with your own teen is not easy.

Fortunately, having that birds-and-bees talk -- and then keeping the lines of communication open -- is made easier by modern media. Both the Internet and television provide solid sexuality-education information to supplement the old-fashioned face-to-face conversation.

Among the web sites offering credible sex education is www.itsyoursexlife.com, launched by MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation -- a nonprofit philanthropy -- in conjunction with a new national survey of public high school students. Those who took the survey said they needed information that could help prevent pregnancy and disease. In the past, MTV has aired its documentary segment called "I Need Sex Rx" as part of its "True Life" series to help educate young people about taking care of their own sexual health. MTV producers encouraged parents to watch the segment with their teenagers to stimulate discussion about sexuality. "True Life" airs regularly on Thursday afternoons. (Check listings for the time slot.)

A Planned Parenthood Federation of America web site, www.teenwire.com, is meant to help parents initiate the sex talk in creative ways. For instance, parents can find common ground by first learning the language teens are currently using to talk about sex.

Another site, www.iwannaknow.org, sponsored by the American Social Health Association, hosts a chat room several times a week. John Butler, chat room moderator, says, "I'm constantly amazed at how much information the young people already have, although they have a hard time differentiating between fact and fiction."

Chances to talk about sex come up frequently when teens chat with their parents. Butler takes the time to explore with young people how they've talked to their parents about less intense issues, and how their parents have reacted. He then role-plays with the teens to help them practice. Iwannaknow.org also has an area where parents can get practical information about talking to their teens.

Web sites and television shows won't eliminate the need for face-to-face, heart-to-heart talks. But these supplementary sources of information might just make it a lot easier to get started, and to keep talking.

 Deb Levine , MA



You've probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. For information about how to protect yourself, read this article.
Source: www.kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/stds/std_chlamydia.html

Casual Sex Making a Comeback

Whether it's a "hookup" that happens in the closet at a party with an acquaintance, or a romantic date with a girlfriend or boyfriend, there's a one in four chance that sex will be on the agenda for teenagers. A new survey shows that about a quarter of teens say that sexual intercourse or oral sex are equally likely to occur in either situation.

The national telephone survey, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, polled 505 teens between the ages of 15 to 17 and was conducted July 11 to 17, 2002 by International Communications Research.

Researchers say the survey shows there's little difference when it comes to what teens are doing sexually in their relationships with the opposite sex, whether it's a casual encounter or part of a long-term relationship. About a quarter of teens said oral sex and sexual intercourse are a routine part of both types of relationships.

In addition, more than a third of all sexually active teens said they have had sexual intercourse in what they considered a "casual" relationship. And 34% of teens overall, regardless of whether they had ever had sexual intercourse, said they had done "something sexual" in a more casual encounter.

In contrast, teens were more likely to say that activities like kissing and touching define a more serious, dating relationship, which suggests that they consider these to be more intimate behaviors.

But the survey shows teens are more likely to use condoms in a casual sexual encounter than in a more serious relationship. Researchers say that suggests that teens might be a bit too trusting in their relationships, even though they're aware of the risks.

Teens said there is less of a need to use a condom if they are in a long-term relationship, but 24% said that cheating is a pretty common occurrence. Rather than using a form of birth control that might protect them from a sexually transmitted disease, 6 in 10 said they are more likely to use birth control pills than condoms if they are in a relationship with someone they trust.

Although they feel it's more important to use a condom in casual encounters, more than 70% of teens agreed that girls are more empowered to ask that condoms be used with a boyfriend than during a "hookup." Most teens said it was easier to talk about the risk of STDs with someone they were in a relationship with or trusted.
Source: my.webmd.com/living_better_content/sxy/article/2953.4048 And, oral sex and intercourse are likely to be part of both a hookup and a long term relationship.

Teens Close To Moms May Wait For Sex

Teenage girls who have close relationships with their mothers wait longer to have sex for the first time, researchers report.
Source: www.intelihealth.com/enews?354703

Is Your Age a Risk Factor for STDs?

"Young women (and young men - editor) are probably at great risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) because of issues of serial monogamy," writes David Landry, a senior researcher with the Alan Guttmacher Institute, in the latest issue of the National Women’s Health Report. Once a person has had sex with someone a few times, she (he) often begins to think they’re “safe.” As a result, she (he) is less diligent about using a condom. When that relationship ends and a young woman (man) starts another, the pattern repeats itself, further increasing the risk. Learn about the most common STDs -- chlamydia, HIV, and genital herpes -- and find out how to protect your sexual health.
Source: http://www.ivillage.com

Teens Represent 25% of new STDs Cases

It's estimated that one in five people in the United States has a sexually transmitted disease - and 25% of new cases of STDs are in teens. TeensHealth's STDs and Other Infections section has the information you need to protect yourself.
Source: www.kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/index.html

What are You Learning in Sex Ed?

One million American teenagers will experience an unplanned pregnancy this year, and one-in-four sexually active teens will become infected with a sexually transmitted infection. So what's the best way to get information about sexual health risks? Here are two main ideas about the subject.
Source: www.teenwire.com/infocus/2002/if_20020614p163.asp

The Night to Always Remember?

The prom is a night you’ll always remember. But the details are endless. Not only do you have to worry about a date, clothes, and transportation, but you (and everyone around you) also may be thinking about sex. Doesn’t everyone have sex on prom night?
Source: www.teenwire.com/infocus/2002/if_20020531p161.asp

So You Think Your High Schooler's Don't Know About Sex

When half the senior class at Newton South High School in Massachusetts took part in a recent raunchy scavenger hunt, they were armed with a remarkable 10-page list of items to be obtained. Pages 8 and 9 are most releaving. Since stuff like this is probably happening nationwide, perhaps you should consider home-schooling the kids.
Source: www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/scavengerlist1.html

Last week, students from Massachusetts's Newton South High School set off on the annual senior class scavenger hunt, armed with this remarkable list of activities (and the corresponding points to be awarded for completion of a task). For instance, shaving off your eyebrows was worth 20 points. But getting "sophmore boys to hook up w/each other" would earn a competitor 40 points. But because the hunt involved vandalism, theft, and marijuana possession, the local cops are investigating and expect to charge about a dozen students with various misdemeanors. Cops say that nearly half the school's 330 seniors participated in the scavenger hunt, which started on the evening of May 28 and continued through the night. And, in a bid to outfox authorities in case participants got popped, organizers prepared two lists, one of which was shorter and less randy, and would have been turned over to cops. Unfortunately for the teens, police obtained both lists, copies of which they provided to TSG (with certain names and other details redacted). Below you'll find both lists, with the "fake" two-pager followed by the real eight-page one. (10 pages)

Teens, Sex, & TV

A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and U.S. News & World Report found that many teenagers come away from their favorite shows with positive messages about sex and sexuality.
Source: www.teenwire.com/warehous/articles/wh_20020522p144.asp

Talking to Your Parents About Birth Control

Many of you may be feeling anxious about some of the decisions that you face about having sex — including avoiding sexually transmitted infection and unintended pregnancy.
Source: www.teenwire.com/warehous/articles/wh_20020313p135.asp

Got Lube?

Sexually speaking, irritating friction can result from something being inserted into a woman's vagina, and rubbing against the vaginal walls when they are not lubricated enough. Vaginal lubrication happens naturally when women become sexually aroused. But sometimes there's not enough lubrication to make sex comfortable. Now what?
Source: www.teenwire.com/warehous/articles/wh_20020403p138.asp

The Smooth Story on Body Hair

As temperatures heat up, chances are you'll be flashing more skin than you did in the dead of winter. But those swimsuits, muscle shirts, and halter-tops will also be baring something else to the world — your body hair.
Source: www.teenwire.com/warehous/articles/wh_20020327p137.asp

Back Up Your Birth Control

You had unprotected sex. The condom broke. Or you were a victim of sexual assault. If this were to happen to you, your natural instinct might be to go into panic mode about the possibility of unintended pregnancy. But that doesn't have to be the case — not if you back up your birth control, by keeping an advance supply of emergency contraception on hand.
Source: www.teenwire.com/warehous/articles/wh_20020320p136.asp

Sexual Revolution And Teenagers Is Explored In Magazine

The consensus of the mass media seems to be that, with apparent decreasing sexual activity, a new teenage conservatism is emerging. Sophisticated academic studies are substantiating these assumptions. But, is the sexual revolution really over? Are teens returning to conservative sexual values? Are we witnessing the end of sexual liberalism and a new trend toward virginity before marriage?
Source: American Sociological Association www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/8799/22002/347880.html

Premature Ejaculation Problems in Young Males

Millions of young guys share the problem of rapid or early ejaculation. Experts say men in this 18-to-29 age bracket are the least experienced, and least likely to seek or know where to look for help. Source: www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/9105/23967/338609.html?d=dmtContent

Morning After Pill: Reduce Pregnancy Rate, Increase STDS?

The British have moved fast to make emergency contraceptives available to girls under the age of 16 -- without requiring their parents' consent. I can't imagine this country being that bold and decisive about this matter.www.healthcentral.com/drdean/DeanFullTextTopics.cfm?ID=46760&src=n43

Talk of the Birds, Bees and STDS may Curb Risky Sex

Frequent parent-child discussions about the birds, the bees and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) may prevent African-American female teenagers from engaging in risky sexual behavior, according to a report. www.healthcentral.com/news/newsfulltext.cfm?ID=45909&src=n49

Social groups help black girls avoid risky sex

Belonging to a social organization seems to protect black teens against sexually risky behavior, a report suggests. Dr. Richard A. Crosby, from the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine, and colleagues interviewed 522 sexually active African-American female teenagers and found that 55% of them participated in social groups or organizations. www.healthcentral.com/news/newsfulltext.cfm?ID=45216&src=n43

Louisiana parents say STD tests in high school OK

Both parents and students appear to be amenable to in-school screening for sexually transmitted disease (STD), according to a recent study conducted in Louisiana.

Dr. Malanda Nsuami and colleagues from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, in New Orleans, report that 97% of parents consented to chlamydia testing and nearly 90% of students actually completed the testing during a 3-year study conducted in three public high schools.

This important finding "conveys great promise for STD control among adolescents," the researchers say in the September issue of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

They offered school-based chlamydia screening repeatedly in the high schools during the 1995 to 1996, 1996 to 1997 and 1997 to 1998 school years. Parental consent was obtained for testing independently during each of the 3 years.

Of the students who participated, more than 80% were tested for chlamydia more than once, the researchers say. Of these students, 1.8% of males and 7.7% of females tested positive for chlamydia at their first test. The rates in students who tested only once were 6.2% and 12.7%, respectively.

The authors note that repeat infections accounted for only 5.6% of cases during the study period.

"The high acceptance among students and repeated participation of a substantial proportion of youth should provide encouragement to other locales that may be considering implementing a school-based STD screening program," Nsuami and colleagues believe. They add that "routine and continued availability of school-based chlamydia screening programs can potentially reduce the burden of disease among adolescents." www.healthcentral.com/News/NewsFullText.cfm?ID=42159&storytype=ReutersNews

Evangelical Christian teen sex more complex than first blush

Recent books and studies seem to indicate disturbing sexual trends among evangelical Christians. And this time we’re not talking about their pastors or political leaders. The new attention is on evangelical teenagers, who reportedly start sex earlier than their mainline Protestant peers.

One gleeful headline on an Internet site recently read: “Evangelical Girls Are Easy.” That is not the way I remember it.

Now, in the cruel march of years, I have a child on the verge of joining the tribe of the teenager, and its rituals hold a sudden interest. In this circumstance, a parent has a choice between turning to sociology or turning to drink. So I called a bright young sociologist at the University of Virginia named W. Bradford Wilcox in search of consolation.

Wilcox argues, in a paper for the Russell Sage Foundation, that the facts are more complicated and more hopeful than the sniggering media caricature.

When the statistics on teen sexuality are controlled for social and economic factors, conservative Protestant teens first have sex at about the same time as their peers - the average is midway through their 16th year. That is hardly comforting to conservative Protestant parents, who would expect more bang for the bucks they spend funding Sunday schools - well, actually, less bang.

But these numbers shift when controlled for religious intensity. For those who attend church often, sexual activity is delayed until nearly 17, while nominal evangelicals begin at 16.2 years, earlier than the national average.

This trend is more pronounced on other measures of sexual behavior. Only 1 percent of conservative Protestants who attend church weekly cohabit, compared to 10 percent of all adults. (On this statistic, nominal evangelicals almost exactly mirror the nation.) Twelve percent of churchgoing evangelicals have children out of wedlock, compared to 33 percent of all mothers.

These facts, according to Wilcox, support some liberal claims and some conservative ones. Liberals are correct that economic and cultural factors matter greatly, sometimes more than individual belief.

Teens with good life prospects and a strong sense of the future - kids with economic and educational ambitions - tend to avoid risky behavior such as drugs and early sex. Without those prospects, the temptation is strong to live for the moment.

The facts also support a basic conservative belief: that it is difficult for teens to be moral alone. Wilcox argues that teen sexual behavior can be influenced - that teenagers can be more than the sum of their hormones. But responsible behavior requires both “norms” and “networks.” An intellectual belief in right and wrong is not sufficient. Teens require a community that supports their good choices, especially in times of testing and personal crisis. “Kids who are embedded in a social network with shared norms,” he concludes, “are more likely to abide by them.”

Sociologist Peter Berger calls these networks “plausibility structures” - sources of authority that do more than lecture or shame; they define the meaning of common sense. When institutions such as religious groups, families, government and the media send a strong and consistent message - smoking is stupid, driving under the influence is criminal, teen pregnancy is self-destructive - we have sometimes seen dramatic changes in behavior. Teen pregnancy and birth rates in the United States, for example, have declined by about one-third since the early 1990s.

These messages of responsibility are often reinforced by tight-knit religious communities, but they are not owned by them. Wilcox notes that American liberal elites often “talk left and walk right, living disciplined lives, and expecting their children to do the same, even when they hold liberal social views.” Divorce rates among college-educated Americans, he points out, have fallen since the 1980s, as it became more evident that casual divorce did not serve the long-term interests of their children.

The decisive role of authoritative communities in determining individual behavior should not surprise conservatives. Conservatism teaches that individuals are not inherently good and so must be carefully civilized. They need social structures and networks that foster duty and discipline and define those commitments as common sense.

In “The Quest for Community,” Robert Nisbet warned: “Release man from the contexts of community and you get not freedom and rights but intolerable aloneness and subjection to demoniac fears and passions.”

It would be nice if teen sexual behavior could be automatically changed by an abstinence lecture or a sermon. Setting those norms and expectations, however, is a small part of a larger cultural task. Moral men and women need moral communities.
Source: Michael Gerson, news.bostonherald.com/editorial/view.bg?articleid=1013920&srvc=home

Young US voters support parental consent for abortion

Two thirds of young Americans due to vote in the upcoming Presidential race support legislation to require girls under 18 to get parental consent before having an abortion, according to poll results released Tuesday.

Results of the July telephone survey of 600 US adults aged 18 to 24 also indicate that 70% favor a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion--regardless of their own position on the issue. But almost half favor legislation making abortion illegal in any situation except those involving rape, incest or a threat to maternal health.

"The biggest surprise was finding out that two thirds of these young adults believe there should be parental consent for abortion. You expect that young people are trying to seek independence and autonomy, so it comes as something of a surprise," Vicky Rideout, a vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in Menlo, California, told Reuters Health.

However, having a position does not necessarily predict voting behavior. Almost half of those surveyed said a candidate's position on abortion would not make a difference to their vote. And while almost two-thirds said they would be more likely to support a candidate who favored federal funding of comprehensive sex education that included contraception information, over half said positions on gay rights would make no difference in their voting choice.

In an interview with Reuters Health, Rideout said that the disconnect was surprising. "In about half the cases, more than half said that they wouldn't really care one way or another what the candidate said on these issues," she noted. "I would have thought that these were more salient issues." Rideout pointed to earlier studies indicating that many young people are not planning to vote at all.

Other findings in the poll include:

-- almost 75% oppose restricting federal funding to abstinence-only sex education courses;

-- about 85% think high school health centers should make condoms available to students;

-- more than three-quarters favor increasing penalties for hate crimes against gays;

-- 72% favor providing gay couples in civil unions with the same legal rights as marriage;

-- over half think gays should be able to serve openly in the military and should have adoption rights;

-- over two-thirds think research to find better treatments and a vaccine for AIDS should be a top government priority;

-- and 71% support legislation requiring health officials to notify sexual or needle-sharing partners of individuals testing HIV positive.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, a charitable national healthcare organization, partnered with the music video channel MTV to conduct the poll. MTV--with co-sponsor Time Magazine--has scheduled an October 18th television special entitled "Choose or Lose 2000: Sex Laws," which will focus on the same range of health topics as they impact on young Americans. www.healthcentral.com/News/NewsFullText.cfm?ID=42576&storytype=ReutersNews

US parents want more sex education for teens

Results of a new national survey show that sex education classes offered to public high school students are not as lengthy or as comprehensive as most parents think they should be.

It also shows that teaching sexual abstinence until marriage remains at the top of parents' sex education priorities. At the same time, the vast majority of parents also want their children to get more instruction about sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, and how to communicate with sexual partners.

"The results in their entirety challenge both sides in the debate to rethink their positions on (sex education) in the public schools," said Steven Rabin, senior vice president of media and public education for the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducted the survey.

Kaiser obtained the results from telephone interviews with a nationwide sample of some 1,500 students in the 7th to 12th grades, and 1,000 public school sex education teachers from those grades. Over 300 public school principals were also surveyed.

Overall, 89% of students reported having at least some sex education classes at school by the 11th or 12th grade.

Nearly all parents said that sex education classes should encourage teens to wait until they are married to have sex. But two-thirds said that the overall message to teens should be to wait to have sex, but use birth control and practice safe sex if they don't. Only one third of parents said that classes should encourage teens to only have sex when they are married.

At the same time, at least 75% of parents said that classes should cover a wide range of other topics, including homosexuality, abortion, proper condom use, and how to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

"Parents, simply put, want it all," said Tina Hoff, a Kaiser researcher who conducted the study.

But few sex education classes seem long enough to cover all the topics parents want their children to know about, Hoff added. Three quarters of the teachers said that their most recent sex education course lasted one or several class periods--a number that contrasts with what most parents said was ideal. Three quarters of parents said it should last half a semester or more.

And those shorter classes may be leaving out many topics parents think are important. While 97% of parents reported wanting sex education classes to instruct teens on what to do if they are raped, only 59% of teens said their classes had breached the topic. Similar gaps in parents' priorities and students' experiences were seen in areas of homosexuality and how to talk with parents and partners about sex. "Parents are looking for real-life skills to be taught in the classroom," Hoff said.

The survey also seemed to uncover gaps between the models schools are supposed to be using for sex education and what students are actually picking up in class. While one third of teachers and principals said that the main message of their sex education classes was "abstinence only," only 18% of students said that they had received and abstinence-only message at school.

Those numbers could mean that students who ask questions about sexual intercourse or contraception in class often get those questions answered, even by teachers mandated to teach abstinence-only, noted Dr. Ramon Cortines, a former New York City Chancellor of Schools, who was on hand when reporters were briefed on the study today.

"When the doors are closed in that classroom, it's hard to know what is really going on" between teachers and students, he said. www.healthcentral.com/News/NewsFullText.cfm?ID=41858&storytype=ReutersNews

Disabled teens dabble in drugs, too

Teens will be teens, even if they have physical disabilities. A study of adolescents across the province of Ontario, Canada, found that teens with disabilities caused by problems such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida will dabble in high-risk behaviors such as smoking, though nowhere near as heavily as their non-disabled counterparts, and at a later age.

Findings from the study were presented at the 54th annual meeting of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine by Dr. Catherine Steele from the Bloorview MacMillan Center in Toronto, Canada.

Researchers used the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children: A World Health Organization Cross-National Survey (HBSC) on 319 disabled adolescents (49% female, 51% male) in Ontario. Survey responses were compared with those filled out by 7,020 non-disabled teens from across Canada. Of the disabled respondents, 34% had cerebral palsy, 36% had spina bifida, and the remainder had other disabilities.

The HBSC is conducted every 4 years in Europe, Canada, the US and Israel, Steele said. It includes questions about risk behaviors such as smoking, physical activity, safety and nutrition.

Teens who were disabled proved to be a significantly different population in many ways. They tended to exercise less, watched significant amounts of television, and had less healthy diets. Over 39% of the disabled respondents watched a minimum of 4 hours of television a day, compared to 13% of the national sample.

They were also much less likely to smoke, use illicit drugs, or drink. None of the disabled teens had ever been drunk compared with 31% of the national sample.

But, as far as smoking or alcohol went, the disabled adolescents did tend to try these behaviors more as they got older, Steele said. For instance, 19% of non-disabled adolescents tried smoking at 11 or 12 years of age, while about the same number (20%) of the disabled adolescents delayed these behaviors until they were age 15 to 16.

"Adolescents with physical disabilities have a different profile of health risk," Steele noted. Health promotion programs and information that targets this particular group is needed so they can avoid other potential health problems from doing things like smoking, she added. www.healthcentral.com/News/NewsFullText.cfm?ID=41733&storytype=ReutersNews

Adolescents' perceptions linked to unprotected sex

Perceptions held by African-American adolescent girls regarding the nature and intimacy of steady and casual relationships influences their level of concern regarding infection with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and, in turn, the frequency with which they will engage in unprotected sex, according to researchers.

"Familiarity fosters beliefs of STD safety for sex partners...(and) not using a condom may be viewed as a demonstration of trust and commitment in a relationship," note Dr. Richard A. Crosby of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues in the September issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Focusing on statistics illustrating African-American girls' high-risk for STDs, Crosby and his team spent a 6-month period surveying and interviewing over 500 African-American females about their sexual behavior. The investigators also collected vaginal swab specimens for STD testing.

The girls were between the ages of 14 and 18, with over 80% of them registered as full-time students and less than 20% employed in a paid position.

The researchers found that over three quarters of the girls reported having sex with a steady partner, while less than 10% reported engaging in casual sex, and another 10% reported engaging in sex with both steady and casual partners.

Among those having vaginal sex in a steady relationship, almost one-third indicated that they had engaged in unprotected vaginal sex at least once. Of those having sex with a casual partner, one-quarter reported having unprotected vaginal sex at least once.

Crosby and his colleagues found that perceptions regarding the nature of the girls' relationships directly impacted on the degree to which they would engage in unprotected sex. For those in a steady relationship, the length of time that relationship has endured and the amount of time the female spends with her partner on a weekly basis, affects the girls' propensity to have unprotected vaginal sex--with longer relationships and more time spent leading to more unprotected sex.

For those with casual partners, there was a consensus that the male decides if and when sex will occur--so that sexual negotiations regarding the use of a condom was often perceived as being out of the girls' hands.

Crosby and his team also found that for those having sex with casual partners, girls who believed condoms detract from sexual pleasure engaged in unprotected sex more frequently.

For sex occurring in both steady and casual relationships, those girls who had ever contracted a STD were less likely to engage in unprotected sex than those who had not had a STD.

Crosby and his team suggest that intervention at the time of treatment for contraction of STDs is needed to help such girls at risk better negotiate the terms of sex when they choose to have it, and to help them understand that greater familiarity with a particular partner does not necessarily lead to an enhanced ability to assess the risk of contracting STDs from that individual. www.healthcentral.com/News/NewsFullText.cfm?ID=41662&storytype=ReutersNews

Sex education, contraception lowers teen pregnancy rate

School-based sex education, effective contraceptive methods and the availability of legal abortions has dramatically cut teenage pregnancy rates in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, researchers reported at the World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics on Thursday.

The researchers said that some elements of the Scandinavian experience could be applied to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate in the US, the world's highest among developed nations.

"Teenage pregnancy is a very serious problem" that impacts educational and occupational development among young mothers and can negatively impact the future health of the child, according to Dr. Iam Milsom, who is associated with the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Goteborg University in Sweden.

Of every 1,000 Swedish women aged 15 to 19 in 1965, 50 became pregnant. By 1995, the rate dropped to 10 pregnancies for every 1,000 women in that age range, according to research Milsom presented at the conference here.

In comparison, the pregnancy rate among women aged 15 to 19 in the US during that same time period dropped slightly from 70 pregnancies per 1,000 American women to 60 per 1,000.

Milsom suggested that educational advertisements regarding the proper use of condoms, particularly directed toward young men, is "one of the most important" elements in a campaign to reduce teen pregnancies.

"The No. 1 priority for the US, which has the highest teen pregnancy rate among developed nations...must be to develop a youth-to-youth sex education campaign," Dr. Roger Short, professor of reproductive biology in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Australia's University of Melbourne, told Reuters Health.

Meanwhile, Milsom acknowledged that legal abortions have prevented teen pregnancies going to full term by as much 50% in some Scandinavian countries.

However, Short noted that "the US has both the highest teenage pregnancy rate and highest teenage abortion rate in the entire developed world."

The Netherlands has the lowest rate of teen pregnancies, with 5 pregnancies among every 1,000 women aged 15 to 19, and has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world.

According to research by the University of Amsterdam's Dr. R.H.W. Van Lunsen presented at the conference, determinants for the low rates among the Dutch include: general openness about sexuality and contraception; effective formal and informal sex education; acceptance of teenage sexuality; cross-gender communication skills; easy access to "nonjudgmental services," and the central role the family physician plays. www.healthcentral.com/News/NewsFullText.cfm?ID=40859&storytype=ReutersNews

Older partner often a factor in early sex

Girls who lose their virginity in very! early adolescence tend to have much older male partners, according to a recent report. The study found that younger sexually active girls with much older partners had more suicide attempts, substance abuse problems and a greater incidence of pregnancy than girls who had sex with boys of similar age. www.healthcentral.com/news/newsfulltext.cfm?ID=45027&src=n43

Educators say oral sex increasing among teens

Fear of AIDS and pregnancy have caused many adolescents to refrain from sexual intercourse. But increasingly, today's teens may be engaging in !other types of sexual behavior--such as oral sex--that can pose health risks as well, study results suggest. www.healthcentral.com/news/newsfulltext.cfm?ID=46057&src=n43

Young misinformed, complacent about HIV/AIDS

Many young people are misinformed about HIV/AIDS and are not using condoms to prevent the spread of the virus that has already infected more than 36 million people, according to a poll published Tuesday.
Source: www.healthcentral.com/news/newsfulltext.cfm?ID=45061&src=n43

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Americans teens have the worst of all worlds...Our children are bombarded and confronted with sexual messages, sexual exploitation, and all manner of sexual criticism. But our society is by and large sexually illiterate. - Faye Wattleton

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