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Graduate project: Blog 2: Female teens and STDs

March 14, 2009

Blah, Blerg, le Blorg…

Here is post number two…


Topic of the week: Female teens and STDs

Have you ever heard anyone say “Hey, guys! I just found out I have an STD, and I’m flippin’ thrilled!” No? Really? I’m a bit surprised. Contracting an STD such as HPV seems so hip these days. Especially because one in every four teen girls has an STD such as HPV (human papillomavirus). Come on. Having an STD IS the new little black dress.

All sarcasm aside, I was quite shocked when I saw these STD statistics. After talking to some teen girls, I found I wasn’t the only one who was shocked.

Mary, a teen from Kansas, says the STD rate embarrasses her and she wishes teens had the sense to discuss health safety before having sex.

Teens should be more responsible and use protection if they are ready to have sex says Melissa, a teen from Wisconsin.

I definitely agree, but I think many teens don’t know or are not taught all of the precautionary methods to take before having sex. For example, in high school the mere thought of catching an STD scared me wholeheartedly. I really didn’t feel like taking care of weird rashes or gross bumps on my body for the rest of my life. I was completely confident I wouldn’t contract anything because I had not yet had sex and all the guys I knew had to be clean. I mean, they were my friends!

Ha. Oh, ignorance. I, like many other female teens, was completely uneducated about STDs. Planned Parenthood’s safer sex description explains that certain STIs (sexually transmitted infections), which become STDs when they show symptoms, can be spread through unprotected oral sex and skin-to-skin sex play. Damn.

I have learned a lot about sex and its complications since I left high school, and I am now a self-proclaimed safety freak, but too many teens are engaging in sexual activity without knowing the dangers they could be facing.

Amber, a teen from Kansas, says many of her friends in high school didn’t know how STDs were spread. Any talk about STDs in Amber’s sex education class attempted to scare students by showing them pictures of what STDs could do to a person’s body. Many students went away from class thinking they could only catch the STD through having vaginal intercourse.

A lot of her friends thought, “I’m not having intercourse. That’s cool. I can do whatever else I want.”

Amber says because of this confusion, she thinks sex education programs should teach students the different ways a person can catch a STD, and what to do if someone thinks they have a STD.

Suzanne, a teen from New York, had a similar opinion about sex education and how STDs are discussed.

“If they were being taught better, the rates of STDs would decrease.”

Often times, though, sex education programs don’t discuss other methods that can help stop the spread of STDs because many programs are abstinence-only. I know if my teachers had stressed the importance of using condoms for oral sex, I would have listened.

However, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported in 2000 that 65 percent of parents “believe that sex education should encourage young people to delay sexual activity but also prepare them to use birth control and practice safe sex once they do become sexually active.”

I understand why some parents, professionals and educators want to stress abstinence, but if teens want to have sex, they are going to have sex. Why not give teens the knowledge they need to protect their bodies? It truly seems silly not to. Perhaps over time, others will see that, too. I hope the STD rate doesn’t have to go up to get the message across.

So, what do you think the best way to prevent the spread of STDs is?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Sam permalink
    August 23, 2009 6:04 pm

    I am a 19 year old female from the United Kingdom. I too did not learn in school that STDs could be contracted from anything other vaginal/anal sex. It was only recently I read about how some STDs can be present in the throat and then when giving oral sex it is passed on!
    Baring that in mind, I only got sex ed on like four occassions when I was 12! Then when we were 17 we were given a class on “what teenagers think about sex?” and by then it was already too late for many teenagers because they had already had unprotected sex.
    I think the sex ed we were given was more focused on the biology aspect of periods, how you get pregnant e.g sperm meeting the egg and “this is a condom, it stops you getting pregnant or getting a STD! Here put it on a banana!”. We never discussed the emotional side of sex and how you sex changes your relationship.
    I think sex ed seriously needs a dramatic change… it IS important that teenagers know the consequences of STDs.

    • Abbie Stutzer permalink
      August 23, 2009 8:16 pm

      Yeah. It definitely does. Teens definitely need to understand how to protect themselves, and be prepared to deal with all the emotional stuff that comes along with sex, too. Thanks for the comment, Sam. I’m happy you enjoyed the post!

  2. January 6, 2011 5:50 am

    You certainly merit a round of kudos for your article and more specifically, your blog in general. Very high quality articles.

    • Abbie Stutzer permalink
      January 6, 2011 8:58 am

      Thanks so very much! I really appreciate the kind words. Happy to see my hard work get compliments.

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