Sex, Teens and Abstinence.

by Leslie Morgan Steiner


Just in time for spring stirrings, Abstinence Awareness Week kicked off on March 6. At a large urban church in Washington, D.C., the keynote Abstinence Awareness speaker and author Tara White [] spoke to teens about the power of abstinence, the wisdom of waiting, and her new book, “Don’t Curse Your Wedding Bed Before You Say I Do.”


Ironically, just days before Abstinence Awareness Week, Brandon Davies, a 19-year-old starter on the Brigham Young University basketball team turned himself in based on the BYU honor code that you are not allowed to have pre-marital sex. He admitted to having sex with his girlfriend. As a result, he was suspended from the nationally-ranked BYU team. The story made headline news on ESPN and sports blogs.


By the time teens turn 19, Brandon Davies’ age, 70 percent have had sex, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Seventeen is the average age when most American teens lose their virginity. Forty-six percent of high school students have had sex at least once, according to The National Campaign. A lower percentage, about 34%, are currently sexually active. Roughly 80% of sexually active teens report using birth control.


Whether or not you believe in abstinence as a realistic choice for teenagers, these stats make it clear that as a parent, you’re crazy not to educate your kids about sex. Kids need reliable, accurate information to empower them to say no, or to explore their sexuality safely.


First you tackle the facts. As awkward as this can be for parents, it's pretty straightforward. You know, the birds and the bees. It's impersonal...the mechanics...nothing about your kid per se. The earlier you start talking with your kids about sex, the easier it goes and the better you become at covering sexual topics without blushing red as a tomato.


The later, far more complicated phase regards your kid’s personal sexuality. Abstinence may be part of the conversation, but it can’t be the only option, even if it’s the choice you advocate. Long before you suspect your child is contemplating sex, you owe it to them to discuss birth control, such squirmy subjects as safe places for sex to take place (your house???), date rape, and the risks of combining drinking and drug use with sex.


And oh yes, every parent’s favorite, masturbation.