Category Archives: Kids & Teens

My “Experience” with Sex Ed

 

By: Alexis Martinez

Imagine being a naïve high school freshman excited to learn about sex in gym class… until you’re bombarded with an “abstinence only” lesson. Yup, that was me.

Abstinence till Marriage was emphasized the whole time. Not telling us it’s okay to have sex, but telling us why we shouldn’t. I remember being asked by this so-called teacher to sign an “ATM” card (yeah, Abstinence Til Marriage). You were supposed to keep this card in your wallet, I guess as a reminder that sex is evil? Who knows, but the concept itself was ridiculous and cheesy.

We need to be pushing SAFE sex instead of no sex. Instead of teaching our kids that abstinence is the only option, we need to teach them that there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to having sex. You shouldn’t feel like you’re doing something wrong. Let’s face the facts, teenagers have sex – and there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong is that we shame them for it, we should all feel comfortable talking to our parents and having productive conversations about it. Once you start shaming them, then they don’t want to tell you about their life.

Not everyone believes in waiting until marriage, and that’s okay. Everyone goes through different experiences at different times in their lives. We are each our own person and need to be making our own choices instead of being filled with ideas that sex is only okay during marriage.

It’s pretty funny that a 14-year-old girl knew that this type of “sexual education” was ridiculous. I sat there wondering how many of these kids are actually going to wait until marriage? And who is this old man to be telling me when I should be having sex?  And why am I signing a damn fake ATM card? Our sexual education experiences affect how we handle our sex lives in the future, it’s time we teach a safe sex lifestyle instead of a no sex lifestyle.

If your school is pushing an abstinence-only life, don’t worry! Planned Parenthood is here to help. Never be scared to come for us with your questions. We have all of your birth control answers here at https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control

It’s More Than the Birds and the Bees

By: Alexis Martinez

Since we were preteens, we always heard the phrase “the birds and the bees”. We learn that one a day you will meet someone and feel special feelings for them that you express physically. Yeah, that awkward talk you have with your parents. Sometimes the adults in our lives tend to forget that it is more than just birds and bees, sex is complicated. Here are a few things that people forget

It can be emotional: Having sex for the first time can be embarrassing, confusing and often liberating. You could either feel incredibly confident after or like you want to crawl into a hole. One thing to remember is that you should never feel ashamed. It can be hard to process after, but never be scared to seek guidance from your family or friends. You’re always taught that one day you’ll fall in love and that it’ll be a magical moment, but there are times where everything isn’t so magical.  Sometimes you are sexually active with someone you don’t love, or with someone that doesn’t love you back. It’s all so complicated and that’s why you should make sure you talk to your partner before you make the next step.

Safety first: I know you’ve heard this a million times, but safety is a priority. You are all thinking “I’d never have unprotected sex”, but believe me, it happens. There are times where you are completely unprepared and in the moment, but you have to say no. Don’t let anyone say that it’s just a one-time thing, because one time can lead to a pregnancy or STD.

Consent: If you aren’t feeling comfortable with every step you’re taking, then don’t do it. Don’t be scared to say no. Communication is key. If your partner if making you feel guilty for not wanting to go all the way – forget them. Only do what makes you comfortable and put your feelings ahead. There is no rush to have sex, there is no rush to have a first kiss, take everything one step at a time and at your pace.

If you feel like you’re ready to be sexually active or just have any questions, please get in contact with Planned Parenthood. You can chat us here at https://www.plannedparenthood.org/online-tools/chat

 

 

What IS Reproductive Health?

By Alexis Martinexz

According to who.int about 1 million girls under 15 give birth every year and about 3 million girls aged 15 to 19 undergo unsafe abortions. This is one of the many factors of not having the resources to have a healthy reproductive life.

Reproductive health is the well-being of your mental and physical life. It’s the ability to have a healthy sex life and having the right resources to decide when/if you want to start a family. This is more than sex, it’s about having the access to the appropriate health services to make sure that when you are sexually active, that you are 100% safe and smart about the decisions you’re making.

Birth control access is a huge part of reproductive health. It gives women and men the ability to choose when/if they want to start a family. Having access to birth control decreases unwanted pregnancies and creates a better opportunity for children to grow up in loving homes. Before having sex, you should research the different types of birth controls to find out which one is best for you. There are many different options and every person has their own preference.

We need to begin educating our teenagers about what reproductive is and how to ensure that they do have a healthy lifestyle. Whether we like it or not, teenagers will have sex. The best we can do is make sure that they are safe and fully aware of what a healthy reproductive life is. Instead of pushing no sex, we need to be pushing the concept of safe sex.

Some resources to educate yourself and those around you are http://innovating-education.org and http://www.amwa-doc.org. You can also go to the Planned Parenthood website and learn about our services and how we can help you.

Source

http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/adolescence/en/

https://www.optionsforsexualhealth.org/birth-control-pregnancy/birth-control-options

Truth of #BlackGirlMagic

#BlackGirlMagic

 By Emma Ziulkowski


What is this new hashtag everyone keeps posting about? #BlackGirlMagic was created by CaShawn Thompson in 2013 as a social movement to “celebrate the beauty, power and resilience of black women”.

This movement is most popular on Instagram/Twitter and if you haven’t checked it out, then I highly suggest you do so. There’s nothing more inspiring then to see these women exceed expectations and look good while doing it! (I’ll include the links below). This movement is popular on additional websites like Facebook. Thompson followed her social movement with a clothing line that prospered and is now sold to anyone and everyone. (You know, more #BlackGirlMagic, just saying.)

Black women come from a history of obstacles that are difficult due to color of their skin. This new social movement shows that no matter what obstacles these women encounter, they WILL accomplish them with grace. This social movement uses the word “magic” because what other word can capture their “beauty, power and resilience” better?

More importantly, we as a society must empower women. This is one movement of many and we need to continue being compassionate towards one another. Engage in information and movements that continue to enhance our futures.

Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/hashtag/blackgirlmagic?lang=en

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/blackgirlmagic/?hl=en

Sources:

 

Religion and Sex Ed in the U.S.

By: Nicole McLaren

The history of sexual education in the U.S. has been interesting to say the least. In the 19th century sex ed included pamphlets about the evils of masturbation to the spreading of the idea that masturbation and ejaculation cause loss of energy. The early 20th century brought about the first organized sexual education. Chicago was the first city to implement sexual education in high school although the program was shut down early after it started. The federal government’s first attempt to educate about sex was during WW1 when they began teaching solider’s about STDs.

The U.S. Office of Education began training teachers in sexual education by the 1930s. By the 60’s and 70’s sex ed had become a political issue that religious conservatives used to prevent sexual education in public schools. These religious groups viewed sex ed as promoting promiscuity, even going as far as claiming sex ed was communist indoctrination.

With HIV emerging as an issue in the 80s, sex ed took on a more prominent role but religious conservatives pushed back through the creation of abstinence only programs. From 1981 to 2010 the federal government spent over $1 billion on abstinence only sexual education programs. This began in the Reagan administration and continued into two years of Obama’s first term. Even in the Clinton’s administration there was provisions added, by religious groups, to the Welfare Reform Act of 96 to ensure that abstinence only education was funded by the federal government. The information provided in these programs not only leaves out birth control methods and other methods of prevention, they also distort medical facts and rely on religious doctrine.

While we have started to move towards a more scientifically based sexual education there is still improvements to be made. The need to promote fact based sex ed is ultimately up to the people in each state. We must push our legislators with organizations like Planned Parenthood and Advocates for Youth to implement sex ed programs in public schools that provide real education for students.

 

 

Sex Education in America: Why Abstinence Only Education Does More Harm Than Good

By: Jillian James

WHAT IS ABSTINENCE ONLY EDUCATION?

Abstinence only education is sexual education that promotes and teaches abstinence until marriage. Discussion of different types of birth control, STDs and STIs, and other sexual topics are excluded completely. Abstinence only education also for the most part only discusses heterosexual relationships and doesn’t provide a depth of information on LGBTQ+ issues.
WHY IS COMPREHENSIVE SEXUAL EDUCATION BETTER?

Abstinence education does more harm than good. It is incredibly important to provide comprehensive sexual education in schools because it gives students the power to makes informed decisions about their bodies and their sexual health. According to Advocates for Youth, 88% of millennials support comprehensive sex education.

Comprehensive sexual education gives students the power of knowledge and the resources to be healthy. By discussing sexuality, it becomes less stigmatized and students grow up feeling more self-actualized and confident about their identity and their bodies. Abstinence only education makes sex and sexuality seem shameful and causes students to have low self esteem and question their natural desires.

The idea that teenagers in high school must be “shielded” from comprehensive sexual education is ridiculous and counter intuitive. Teenagers are exposed to sex and sexual acts through music, movies, and pop culture and it is crucial that they are given medically correct information that is taught by a professional.

It is also important to note that the message of abstinence can be taught effectively while still providing comprehensive sexual education. Several studies have shown that providing comprehensive sexual education does not make the teen pregnancy rate go up. In fact, teen pregnancy rates have been dropping over the past few years and many studies owe that fact to wider contraception access and education.

Take steps to educate yourself and research sexual education in your area. If you have any questions at all about sexual health, Planned Parenthood clinics are available to provide educational services and professional help and advising. You can find your local Planned Parenthood and learn more about the educational services they offer at PlannedParenthood.org.

Teen Pregnancy & Educational Outcomes

teen-pregnancy

We see plenty of anecdotal evidence that teen pregnancy has an adverse impact on the educational outcomes of teen mothers, yet does research verify many of our notions. Health Educators and Social Workers gather observational data as we speak to our clients and when we pose the question of why our teen moms are not doing well in school or have dropped out of school all together, we receive responses such as:

“I don’t have time to study because my baby keeps me up.”

“Being a mom is more important than going to school.”

“I can’t work, go to school, and raise a baby at the same time.”

Any woman who has raised a child can attest to the fact that the rearing of a child takes a considerable amount of work but does the fact that being a mom as a teen really hinder educational attainment? According to the National Conference of State Legislators, Thirty percent of all teenage girls who drop out of school cite pregnancy and parenthood as key reasons. Rates among Hispanic (36 percent) and African American (38 percent) girls are higher. Educational achievement affects the lifetime income of teen mothers: two-thirds of families started by teens are poor, and nearly one in four will depend on welfare within three years of a child’s birth. It evident that the majority of teen mothers face not only the hurdle of raising a child while pursuing their education but all while doing so in most cases with financial burdens.

Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between poverty and educational attainment and those that live in poverty are less likely to graduate or obtain post-secondary education. Furthermore research states:

– Only 40 percent of teen mothers finish high school. Fewer than 2 percent finish college by age 30.

– Young women who give birth while attending a community college are 65 percent less likely to complete their degree than women who do not have children during that time.

– Children of teen mothers perform worse on many measures of school readiness, are 50 percent more likely to repeat a grade, and are more likely than children born to older mothers to drop out of high school.

Teen pregnancy and dropout rates could be more likely attributed to poverty and other adverse social factors especially considering the fact that more affluent teens have greater access to health care, housing, employment, and social supports. While these other social factors may play a greater role in the academic achievement of teen mothers, it is still evident that health educators, school personnel, and policy makers must be aware of the barriers that teen pregnancy has on educational outcomes. One way to mitigate the aforementioned barrier is through the implementation of comprehensive sex education programs, specifically those that target high risk populations and teens that are currently pregnant or parenting.

According to an article published in the Journal of School Health, school-based programs have the potential to help teens acquire the knowledge and skills needed to postpone sex, practice safer sex, avoid unintended pregnancy, and, if pregnant, to complete high school and pursue postsecondary education. A secondary benefit of comprehensive sex education is that it will serve to protect youth from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, which also disproportionately affect urban minority youth. It is evident that there is a correlation between teen pregnancy and poor educational outcomes and it is vital to develop comprehensive measures to promote academic achievement among teen mothers, especially minority teens living in poverty.

References:

National Institute of State Legislators http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/teen-pregnancy-affects-graduation-rates-postcard.aspx

Basch, C. Teen Pregnancy and the Achievement Gap Among Urban Minority Youth, 2011. Journal of School Health.

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Why Young People Should Still See a Gynecologist Before Their First Pap Smear

Nurse Meeting With Teenage Girl And Mother In Hospital

Nurse Meeting With Teenage Girl And Mother In Hospital

Many people now know the new guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) do not recommend pap smears until the age of 21. This can be a bit confusing and frustrating for parents and teens that still have sexual and reproductive health care needs and are unsure if they should visit a gynecologist or sexual and reproductive healthcare provider (SRHP) who specializes in this area.

Here are some of the most common reasons young people should go to a SRHP.

STDs – Many young people and their partners need to be tested or treated for STDs. They may also want to talk to their parent/guardian and their medical provider to determine if they should receive the Human Papilloma Vaccine. The Gardasil Vaccine is recommended for boys and girls ages 11 or 12. The vaccine is recommended for people ages 9 to 26. According to Merck pharmaceuticals, the Gardasil vaccine helps protect against 4 types of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancer cases, 70% of vaginal cancer cases, and up to 50% of vulvar cancer cases. In males and females ages 9 to 26, GARDASIL helps protect against about 80% of anal cancer cases and 90% of genital warts cases.

Vaginal Infections – Infections can occur at any time during our lives and many times have nothing to do with whether we are sexually active (i.e. urinary tract infections, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, folliculitis).

Menstruation – Some teens have irregular periods, PMS, painful cramps or heavy bleeding that keeps them home from school or work, acne or other medical conditions like endometriosis or abnormally large ovarian cysts that may require medication, procedures, or an office visit.

Birth Control – A sexual and reproductive health care provider can discuss the benefits and potential side effects of each birth control method and help the patient determine which method is best for them.

Pregnancy – Young people can receive pregnancy tests, options counseling, and preconception health if someone is planning to become pregnant in the future.

Safer Sex – Education can empower people to make safer choices and know their risks if and when they decide to be sexually active.

LGBTQ Health Concerns – Specific information can be given on how to be safer with a partner, medical concerns that impact LGBTQ individuals and referrals to additional resources.

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Are Same Sex Partners Better or Worse Parents?

One of the tired old arguments against gay marriage and gay adoption revolved around the alleged damage same sex parents would do to their children. Four recent studies that were presented at the American Psychological Association conference disputed this belief.

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Three major concerns about same sex parenting are often heard. One is that children of same sex relationships will experience confusion in gender roles. This is not the 50s when most moms stayed home and took care of the household chores including being the primary childcare giver and dad went off to work each day spending very limited time with his children. Today, clear gender roles are often non-existent where boys are taught to cook, clean and nurture while girls are free to dream of a career and expect a partner who is equally involved in all aspects of childcare. Somehow children reared in opposite sex households where mom goes off to work and dad is the one making the lunches and driving the kids to soccer do just fine. Why would it be any different with same gender parents? Well, it’s not.

A second fear was that children in same gender families would be less well-adjusted than their peers. Research results show that gay and lesbian parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children and raise equally mentally healthy kids.

A third fear is that children of same sex couples will be stigmatized and experience bullying. While they may feel different, research in one study shows that 70% of children interviewed appeared to respond to adversity with resilience and have very positive feelings about their families. Feeling different and experiencing some challenges with peers were not necessarily impacting children negatively. It’s important that issues are discussed with the children and that other adults, such as teachers and coaches, be supportive as well.

Now that same sex marriage is legal and social media frequently normalizes all sorts of blended families, the generation of kids growing up now is much more accepting of two mommies or two daddies. What all kids need more than anything else is a stable, loving environment where they feel safe and loved.

*Additional resources can be found here, here, and here.

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Sex Education and Your Preschooler

I am a mother of two daughters, ages 3 and 5, I have a Master’s degree in Public Health Education, and I have over ten years experience as a sex educator. Yes, I’m that mom who can’t wait until her kids ask where babies come from.

The term “sex education” is widely misunderstood. What most people don’t understand is that sex education is built upon a foundation of anatomical and emotional vocabulary, self-respect, self-exploration, body image, family values, communication and negotiation skills – and that’s just in the toddler/preschool years!

Sex education begins when you look into your baby’s eyes, meet their basic needs, and start to build a safe and secure attachment. The baby will cry, communicating the only way it knows how, and you’ll meet its needs, which is how your child starts to trust you.

woman-changing-diaper-photo-450x400-ts-75677441Diapering is another of those early opportunities you have to create positive experiences and foster brain development. Use gentle touches. Use positive language. Don’t use words like gross, disgusting, and stinky because remember that you are applying those words to their genital area and they need to have a positive relationship with their private parts. If they reach for their genitals while you’re changing them, don’t swat their hand away because that gives them the sense that there’s something wrong with them, that somehow touching their own body is wrong. Instead, gently move their hand to the side.

Before you know it, your 12-18 month old seems to be picking up a new word every day. By this time, you’re asking her where her nose, elbows, ears, and toes are so why not include the rest of the anatomical parts? Your son doesn’t have a “birdie” or a “ding dong,” he has a penis, scrotum and testicles. Your daughter doesn’t have a “vajajay” or a “potty maker,” she has a vulva and a vaginavagina. Your daughters can’t see their vaginas so it is best to use the correct term for the part they can see and touch (vulva). You may feel weird saying these words especially if your parents didn’t raise you using these words, but practice makes perfect. An elbow is an elbow, a back is a back, and a penis is a penis. Send the message that you are comfortable talking about their bodies because after words come sentences. And questions. Oh, the questions.

Seize questions and teachable moments like they are winning lotto tickets floating from the sky. If you aren’t sure how to answer their questions, follow these tips.

Using that technique, here’s a conversation I had with my almost-three year old:

Daughter: “How did the baby get out?”

Me: “How do you think it happened?”

Daughter: “It boomed out of her mouth.”

Me: “Well, that’s interesting.”

And maybe you’re wondering why the sex educator mom didn’t tell her daughter the whole truth… well, I know my child best. I knew her body of knowledge and vocabulary about the topic and she was still 2 years old. I did not think it was age-appropriate to tell her the whole truth at that time. Lucky for me, she asked me again recently and I told her that a baby comes out either through the vagina or by surgery. Children ask more sexuality-related questions by 8 years old than they will the rest of their childhood and adolescence. Take advantage!

My two year old is starting to sit up on the changing table with legs spread apart to examine her vulva. I let her. I say, “that is your vulva.” She repeats after me. And just like that, a valuable teachable moment occurs.

When my oldest was three she had some questions about pregnancy. A well-intentioned friend told her that her baby was in the tummy, but she knew the tummy to be the stomach, where food goes. I clarified for her, “the baby actually grows inside of a very strong muscle called the uterus.” Teachable moment.

Messages about privacy and self-exploration are now working their way into conversations with my four year old. She has discovered that it “tickles” when she touches herself. I tell her it is ok as long as she does it in private. We also teach her that other people want privacy when they are in the bathroom and changing rooms.

My husband and I avoid using the f word. Not the swear word, the FAT word. We are both aware that early adoption of a healthy body image will directly influence her sexual decision making later in life. If she values and respects her body, she’ll hold her future partners to the same standard.

bodyimageA lot of the messaging about family values at this age is unspoken. Do you shower or get dressed in front of your little one? Do you show affection to your spouse and/or extended family members? Do you look at yourself in the mirror with appreciation or disdain? What role does your faith play? Do you and your spouse argue respectfully or not? And much of it is spoken, hopefully loud and clear. 

So the next time someone tells you that your child is too young to receive sex education, tell them they are wrong. In the beginning, sex education isn’t about sex at all. It’s about giving your child a solid foundation to stand on. Help them learn to love, respect, and trust during the early years because it’ll make a huge difference during their adolescence. Be open, be honest, and don’t fear THE BIG TALK. You know you’re doing it right if you’re having many little talks. You can do this!

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