Why do more teens have STDs?

Filed under: Teens, Work Life, In The News, Day Care & Education

According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in every 4 teenage American girls has a sexually transmitted disease. The CDC study also indicates that nearly half of all African American girls have an STD, while Whites and Hispanics averaged about 20 percent.

This isn't the first time I've heard statistics about girls and STDs. The last time I remember taking note of this problem was fifteen years ago, when I was a co-ed at Arizona State University. However, the STD rates in question then were about college age girls, not teens.

Today, I turned on the news to hear a doctor being interviewed about the more than 3 million teenage girls who we now know have an STD. Interestingly, the doctor attributed the high incidence to the fact that many STDs do not have visible symptoms, making them more likely to be transmitted unknowingly. The doctor blamed these new STD numbers on teens not receiving adequate education in "safe" sexual practices.

I'm not a doctor, but I'm willing to out on a limb here and suggest that these staggering and depressing STD rates are actually the result of more teenage girls having sex.

Why are more teenage girls today having sex and with more partners? It's a great question, but unfortunately, it is also one that rarely gets discussed with real honesty because it touches a cultural nerve that too many parents are reluctant to discuss; namely, the fact that today, kids are far less supervised than they were in the past. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics conducted a study called, "When and Where Do Youths Have Sex" and found that "substantial numbers of youth currently spend long periods of time (after school) without adult supervision".

It is certainly true that if a teenager really wants to have sex, he or she will. But is it any surprise that this same study tells us that most teen sex occurs in a house in the after school hours, as opposed to, say, the back of a car?

An STD for a girl can lead to a lot more than social embarrassment. It can mean infertility and even cervical cancer. Researchers can give us the statistics, but it is up to parents to ask the hard questions and come up with the even harder answers.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.