When is the right time to talk about sex with your child? An abstinence only intervention seems to help young teens (12 years old) delay sex and reduce their recent sexual activity as well. This may lead to less pregnancies, reduced the risk for AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.
SEX TALKS SHOULD BEGIN BY AGE 12
When is the right time to talk about sex with your child? It seems like the age of 12 is the right time. A recent study by Dr. Jemmott, found that only a third of sixth and seventh graders who complete abstinence-focused program started having sex within the next two years. Over half of the students who attended other classes about contraception and abstinence also did not become sexually active for the following two years.
Six hundred sixty two Afro-American students, averaging 12 years of age, from four public middle schools, participated in the program. This group was the most at risk youth.
The sessions encouraged children to delay sex till they were ready not necessarily until married. Condoms were not discouraged. There was no instruction on contraceptives, and no religious arguments as reasons to delay sex until they were ready. Instructors talked about the student’s knowledge of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Role-playing exercises and brainstorming sessions were conducted to correct misconceptions about sex and sexually transmitted diseases, abstinence was encouraged, and the students were offered other ways to resist the pressure to have sex.
TIMING FOR SEX TALKS
If you wait for the right time to talk to your kids about sex, you probably already missed the window of opportunity. Talking to their parents about sex is inconceivable, by the time your children are teenagers.
A Harvard study, by Dr. Schuster, of teens between 13 and 17 years of age, found two thirds of high school seniors had lost their virginity by their senior year in high school. Over 40% of boys and girls had sex before their parents even gave them any advice on how to ask someone out on a date. Your sex talk is often too late after your child become sexually active.
CONCLUSION OF STUDY
Early sex education classes that focus on encouraging children to remain abstinent persuades a significant proportion to delay sexual activity. This may be another way to help prevent teen pregnancies.
This can protect many of them against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. The theory-based abstinence only curriculum is as effective as a combined course and more effective than the safer sex only curriculum now used in delaying sexual activity.
Two thirds of the students in this study, delayed sex for at least two years after the program was initiated as opposed to those without a program or who were instructed only in safe sex.
FEDERAL FUNDING ELIMINATED
Recently the White House eliminated all federal financing for abstinence only programs (more than $150 million dollars). A pregnancy prevention initiative has been started that will finance programs only on scientific studies thought to be effective.
This study shows that other programs can work and federal funding abstinence programs should be eligible along with a mix of other programs. Some federal funding should be available again for experimental programs as this study, to see if the results in this study could be replicated.
There has been an intense debate over how to reduce teenage sexual activity, pregnancies, births, and sexually transmitted diseases among children and teenagers. We need a variety of intervention to address an epidemic like HIV pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases.
An abstinence only intervention seems to help young teens (12 years old) delay sex and reduce their recent sexual activity as well. This may lead to less pregnancies, reduced the risk for AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases. The classes held in the study did not portray sex negatively or suggests condoms should not be used, and only contain medically accurate information.
The program in the study was a research program and is not currently used in schools. Some of the federal money for experimental programs should be used to see if these results could be replicated. It would certainly add a new tool to our repertoire.