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Who Should Be Teaching Teen Girls About STDs?

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, March 13, 2008 11:51 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Sexually Transmitted Disease, Human Papillomavirus

After the CDC revealed that one in four girls has a sexually transmitted disease, educators and parents want to know what to do?


  • Advocates for Youth web site here

  • Planned Parenthood web site here 

  • MomLogic web site here

  • Injuryboard on sexually transmitted diseases here

  • The Education of Shelby Knox web site here

  • CDC study results here 


The news this week that one in four teenage girls ages 14 to 19 has a sexually transmitted disease, has parents, educators and  advocates scrambling in different directions for an answer.  

It’s an important question to answer for the future sexual health of 3.2 million young teenage girls who, according to a CDC survey, are not only having unprotected sex, but have at least one sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Many are calling for a revision and updating of the federal $1.5 billion abstinence – only sex education program which is not only failing to prevent pregnancies (the number is on the rise recently) but apparently failing to educate how to avoid contracting human papillomavirus, Chlamydia, trichomoniasis and herpes simplex.

A failure to communicate with parents is part of the problem says journalist Sabrina Weill, the founder of the web site Momlogic, the same site that recently revealed that one in five kids say they’ve seen other teens having sex in school.

She says when she researched her book, The Real Truth About Teens and Sex : From Hooking Up to Friends with Benefits -- What Teens Are Thinking, Doing, and Talking About, and How to Help Them Make Smart Choices, she found there are dangerous secrets kids are keeping from their parents.

She says most kids would say “My Mom would kill me if she knew”. Their secrets range from kissing boys to cigarettes and sex.

A study this week on the MomLogic.com web site shows almost half of teens 47 percent never talk to their parents about sex, drugs, cigarettes or alcohol. The study was released this week by WE tv (Women’s Entertainment) and Harris in advance of an eight part documentary High School Confidential beginning this week that follows 12 girls through four years of high school where sex figures prominently.

In The Real Truth About Teens and Sex, Weill believes it is dangerous to rely on schools to provide sex education. She encourages parents to initiate the conversation and despite the horrified looks on their faces, teens want to talk about sexuality with adults they trust. 

Weill reports that 66 percent of teens and 81 percent of 12 to 14 year olds regret their first sexual experience. In the book, Weill helps parents with resources to talk to their children because it isn’t easy.

One of her quotes is that, “good parenting is always inconvenient for the parent.”

The Washington Post reports that in a 2007 study by the public school system in Washington D.C., 60 percent of high school kids and 30 percent of middleschoolers reported having intercourse.

Among high schoolers, 20 percent said they had sex with more than four people. 12 percent of middles schoolers had sex with three or more partners.

A junior in high school suggests peer education is the answer.  As teens are prepared for college by former students, why not offer STD education?  

"If girls saw other girls come onstage and tell what happened to them, maybe they'd say, 'Oh, it really can happen to me' " says student Lorena Granados.

Utah went in the other direction. 

While the Utah Legislature has passed House Bill 15 this year requiring public education about the health effects of STD such as infertility and sterility, but its funding was cut in half.  

Then it limited the campaign to education about chlamydia and gonorrhea.  

Then it exempted public schools from the public health campaign under the state’s ban on sex education in public schools.

Citing the recent rise in teen pregnancies, “Leaving the education up to parents is not working,” this editorial says in the Salt Lake Tribune. 

But most experts don’t believe that parents are a lost cause, and if education is the key it begins at home.

The nonprofit group,  Advocates for Youth says on its web site that a positive attitude shown by parents helps kids develop a healthy attitude about themselves even when the subject is sex.

Clearly articulate your family and religious values regarding sexual intercourse” is the guide for parents on their website.  The group encourages abstinence but also education about contraceptives and condoms and breaks down the discussion depending on age.

The president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards issued a statement after the CDC numbers came out saying that the national abstinence-only program “is a $1.5 billion failure, and teenage girls are paying the real price.”

Planned Parenthood calls for updated sex education programs that discuss both abstinence as well as contraception and sexually transmitted disease.  

Citing Iowa as the 17th state to reject federal monies for abstinence-only education Richards says, ‘Congress should put the right foot forward and immediately stop funding for dangerous abstinence-only programs that deny young people information about how to prevent pregnancy, protect their health and make responsible decisions.”

Shelby Knox, a blogger on the Huffington Post was the subject of a 2005 PBS documentary film about sex education, The Education of Shelby Knox, and speaks publicly about the need for sex education and youth empowerment.

She like Sabrina Weill says the discussion starts at home.  If it begins early enough she believes your teen is more likely to come to you when the time comes to have sex.

Instead of abstinence-only sex education, Knox believes parents should talk to the principal, get on a school board and  encourage schools to put more money toward comprehensive sex education that not only gives information but power and encouragement to teens to help them make responsible decisions because ultimately it's up to them. #


1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by alex
Monday, March 17, 2008 11:18 AM EST

thank you for writting this article. This help me a lot!

Comments for this article are closed.

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