Sunday, May 31, 2009

Inform Your Kids - Their Health Depends On It!

Our kids need to be aware of the realities associated with sexual activity. They need to respect their bodies and self to know better than to throw themselves into a pool of opportunities that will put them in over their heads.

Warning - blog entry below falls under the 'uncomfortable topic' genre - Teenage Sexuality.

My husband and I have taught our children the importance of valuing their virginity, to have a strong sense of self-worth, and to resist the peer pressure associated with having pre-marital, casual sex.

That being said, I also know that my one guy in college is making choices of his own on a daily basis that could change his life in a heartbeat.

So why send our kids out into the big bad world uninformed?

Today's kids are pressured in more ways and more often, and much younger to have sex than I ever remembered in my high school and college days.

Perhaps presenting the cold hard facts associated with having indiscriminate sex to them would hit home.

For instance, not all teens realize that STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) are diseases, infections or illnesses that spread from one person to another through sexual contact or sexual touching, to intercourse.

From some of my experiences working with teen groups, the large majority of them felt an STD only resulted from actual sexual intercourse.

The average teen in my group also thought that AIDS was the only STD that caused death. They did not understand that certain STDS left untreated, or incorrectly treated could cause very serious illnesses that can lead to death.

Some teens are familiar with the terms Syphilis, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia;all of them being STDs caused by a bacteria and can usually be treated with medication.

However, very few understand that left untreated can cause blindness, or their ability to have a child in the future. In one of my groups, only one teen in 14 knew that a girl living with one of these STD's could pass it on to to her baby during birth, and causing the newborn to be very ill. None of the kids knew that Syphilis not treated can result in death.

Hepatitis B - most of the teens thought this was a disease that only people outside of the US would get, because they had shots when they were a baby against Hepatitis. What they didn't realize is that it was passed through the simple act of kissing - let alone sexual contact or contact with a dirty needle. None of them realized there is no cure for the Hep B, only medications to help, nor how serious the disease is.

The topic of genital warts brought lots of snickering in the group. They stopped that quickly when I explained how quickly these warts multiply and how much this infection also multiples a woman's chance at cervical cancer.

Herpes also had a few laughing - saying that it wasn't that serious. More of an embarrassing thing than a health issue. Yet they didn't understand that there is no cure for it, and again, if a woman was 'active' during birth, could cause her newborn to be blind. Very few were aware that not all people know when they are "shedding" herpes and therefore could be passing it on to their partners and not even know it.

HIV - AIDS has definitely caught their attention and they did understand the ramifications of this horrible disease, yet they still continue to think - that it wouldn't ever affect their lives, because none of the participants in my group were gay.

It never occur ed to them that a girl they slept with, slept with a boy, who slept with a girl who slept with a boy who... tried a needle drug on a dare, or who.... experimented one time with homosexuality....

I have discussed all the other VERY IMPORTANT reasons for my kids NOT to engage in casual sex, and instead, trying to wait until marriage, etc., These conversations are just as important to have.

Awkward as it may be, don't avoid having discussions about STDs with your kids, it is too important NOT to. The STD conversation may be the talk that 'clicks' for your kid, being the catalyst that makes them more aware of the risks associated.

In My Perspective, I don't care what ignites that moment of clarity when they see the ramifications of what could happen, I just want the light bulb to go on!


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