By Robert Seith
CWK Senior Producer
be hard the first couple of times, but after you keep that
standard for yourself all the time, then others will learn
to accept it."
-Tasleem Jadabji, a teen-
| At parties, in school parking lots or when theyre
just hanging out, girls are often pressured by boys to fool
around and have sex. But now more than ever, girls are
gaining the confidence to answer their male counterparts with
a resounding no.
It might be hard the first couple of times, but after
you keep that standard for yourself all the time, then others
will learn to accept it, says Tasleem Jadabji, a teen.
Just standing up for yourself over time will help give
you that confidence, adds her friend, Shoba Reddy-Holdcraft.
According to an analysis of survey data published in Context,
a journal of the American Sociological Association, more girls
are prolonging sexual abstinence and influencing boys to do the same.
Guys are becoming more
tolerant, patient and aware
of the fact that there are girls who dont want to have
sex and that the pressure is not going to change their minds,
Kristen Baker says.
By doing that, they learn that youre serious, so
they take you more serious and you gain their respect, and you
respect them for respecting you, adds Courtney McIntosh.
The studys findings reveal that girls are even becoming
more outspoken about who they are and what they want.
Girls are starting to watch programs that empower them,
that say, Hey, its OK to be free to respect your
body, to respect yourself, and I think theyre also
becoming more aware that not everyone is having sex, says
Sharina Prince, a health educator.
And sex isnt the only area where girls are drawing the
We dont just go along with whatever, and we speak
our minds more instead of just letting someone else tell us
what to do about everything, what to wear, what we should do,
who we should hang out with, Courtney says.
Experts say that parents can play a key role in helping their
teens make positive health decisions by giving them two powerful
weapons: self confidence and knowledge.
In developing or establishing a really positive relationship
so that the teen feels empowered and feels like they understand,
have an understanding about sexuality education, Prince
By Kim Ogletree
CWK Network, Inc.
Teenage girls who set
the sexual boundaries in a relationship may be a growing trend,
according to new research based on national surveys of the
sexual habits of teens. The study, published in the American
Sociological Associations journal Context,
reveals that girls are convincing more boys to prolong sexual abstinence
until they are in a serious relationship. Study co-author
Barbara Risman, a sociologist at North Carolina State University,
says that more boys are staying virgins longer and starting
their sex lives with their girlfriends.
Girls have been able to create a sexual culture in high
schools where the boys will be stigmatized if theyre
players, adds study co-author Pepper Schwartz,
a sociologist at the University of Washington.
The studys findings, based on survey results compiled
by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, included
the following statistics:
- The percentage of sexually active black teens fell from
81.5% to 72.7% from 1991-1997.
- Among whites, the number declined from 50.1% to 43.7%;
among Latinos, the drop was 53.1% to 52.2%.
- The number of high school boys under 18 who engaged in
sexual activity dropped 5.7% from 1991 to 1997.
- Teen pregnancy rates dropped 17% from 1990 to 1996.
- Teen abortion rates dropped 16% from 1990 to 1995.
So why are more teens
waiting longer to have sex? Some experts believe that girls
are becoming increasingly aware of the risks involved in sexual
activity including pregnancy and sexually transmitted
diseases (STDs) due to abstinent campaigns and a surge
in positive messages about self-esteem. The U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services cites these additional statistics
and facts that may help curb teenage sexual activity:
- More than 1 million teens become pregnant each year.
- Young girls have more problems during pregnancy.
- Babies of young, teen mothers are more likely to be born
with serious health problems.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are at epidemic
- Some STDs are incurable. They may cause pain, sterility
or sometimes even death.
What Parents Need to
While it is important to talk with children about sex and
sexuality, parents are often unsure of how to begin such open
communication. Children Now and the Kaiser Family Foundation
offer these tips for having a positive conversation with your
child about sexual relationships:
- Explore your own attitudes:
Studies show that children who feel they can talk with their
parents about sex are less likely to engage in high-risk
behavior as teens than children who do not feel they can
talk with their parents about the subject. Explore your
own feelings about sex. If you are very uncomfortable with
the subject, read some books and discuss your feelings with
a trusted friend, relative, physician or clergy member.
The more you examine the subject, the more confident youll
feel discussing it.
- Start early: Teaching your
child about sex demands a gentle, continuous flow of information
that should begin as early as possible. As your child grows,
you can continue his or her education by adding more materials
gradually until he or she understands the subject well.
- Take the initiative: If
your child hasnt started asking questions about sex,
look for a good opportunity to bring up subject.
- Talk about more than the birds
and the bees: While children need to know the
biological facts about sex, they also need to understand
that sexual relationships involve caring, concern and responsibility.
By discussing the emotional aspect of a sexual relationship
with your child, he or she will be better informed to make
decisions later on and to resist peer pressure.
- Give accurate, age-appropriate
information: Talk about sex in a way that fits the
age and stage of your child.
- Communicate your values:
Its your responsibility to let your child know your
values about sex. Although he or she may not adopt these
values as he or she matures, at least your child will be
aware of them as he or she struggles to figure out how he
or she feels and wants to behave.
- Relax: Dont worry
about knowing all of the answers to your childs questions.
What you know is a lot less important than how you respond.
If you can convey the message that no subject, including
sex, is forbidden in your home, youll be doing just
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), teens
who have high self-esteem and self-respect make more responsible
health choices. As a parent, you can help your teen develop
respect in the following ways:
- Allow your teen to voice opinions.
- Allow your teen to be involved in family decisions.
- Listen to your teens opinions and feelings.
- Help your teen set realistic goals.
- Show faith in your teens ability to reach those
- Give unconditional love.
Whether your child is thinking about having sex or engaging
in other risky behaviors, you can take steps to help him or
her make an informed decision. By following these tips from
the AMA, your child will realize that you want to help:
- Allow your teen to describe the
problem or situation. Ask how he or she feels about
the problem. Ask questions that avoid yes or
no responses. These usually begin with how,
why or what. Really listen to what
your teen is saying, instead of thinking about your response.
Try to put yourself in your teens shoes to understand
his or her thoughts.
- Talk with your teen about choices.
Teens sometimes believe they dont have choices.
Help your teen to see alternatives.
- Help your teen to identify and
compare the possible consequences of all of the choices.
Ask your teen to consider how the results of the decision
will affect his or her goals. Explain (without lecturing)
the consequences of different choices.
of Health and Human Services