During the year 2004, teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 accounted for 19,914 cases of sexually transmitted diseases.
One in three sexually active teenagers in Florida acquires a sexually transmitted disease.
Chlamydia affects 3 out of 4 sexually active teenagers in Florida who have acquired a sexually transmitted disease.
Since the year 2000, 118,700 teenagers in Florida between the ages 15 and 19 have become pregnant.
Teenagers in Florida accounted for over one quarter of births to unwed mothers in 2007. In the United States more than 19 million STD infections occur annually. Half of them are contracted by youth ages 15 to 24.
YOU CHOOSE — TALK TO YOUR KIDS OR LET SOMEONE ELSE INFLUENCE THEM!
Everyone is trying to influence kids…the media, their peers, other adults…Do you think all of those influences are trying to get them to make the healthiest choices for their lives?? Talk to your kids!
- Be available to talk to your teens; treat them other with respect and trust.
- Ask your teen questions about their opinions, friends, schools or movies, but let your teen tell his or her story.
- Try asking open-ended questions such as “What was the best part of your day?” Support their goals. Ask what your teen’s goals are, both for the long range and for the short term and share your support.
- Encourage, educate and empower your teen to make healthy choices. Give your teen the guidance, information and skills to be successful.
Help your child(ren) become goal-setters and goal-achievers
Read “What Do You Really Want?” by Beverly Bachel with your child. Kids who are setting and working toward achieving goals are 78% less likely to engage in risky, unhealthy behaviors such as drinking, smoking, sexual activity, and drug use.
If you made poor decisions when you were young that should not keep you from guiding your teen to healthier decisions. Many of today’s parents were teens when they began having sex, smoking, drinking and/or doing drugs. Now we know more about the risks of those behaviors, STDs, the limits of condom protections, the dangers of smoking, and the consequences of sex at an early age.
Help your teen develop refusal skills
You cannot go everywhere with your teen, so it’s important for your teen to choose good friends. Get to know their friends and what they are doing. But even when your teen’s close friends are making healthy choices, your teen will probably be in situations that are unexpected. So he or she needs to learn how to refuse. Let your teen know that you understand peer pressure and how strong it can be. Then help your teen think though and plan what he or she would do in a tough or uncomfortable situation.
Teach your teen the “N.I.C.E” way to say “No.”
Teens are sensitive to peer pressure. They do not want their peers to make fun of them or ridicule them. So when your teen is confronted by a situation that violates their values, comfort or safety, they should be prepared to say “no” firmly, but graciously, by following these four steps:
N — Say “No.” Not “maybe” or “later.” Teach your teen to set boundaries and be decisive. If your teen makes the decision not to smoke, drink/drug, or have sex before being confronted by pressure, it will be easier to say “no” when a situation arises.
I — Follow with an “I” statement: “I’m not going to have sex until I get married.” Or “I don’t plan to become a smoker.” Or “I don’t want to drink, it’s illegal for someone my age.”
C — If the pressure continues, “Change.” Teach your teen to change the topic: “Did you see the game on TV last night?” Or change their conversation partner: “Julie is over there. I need to ask her something.” Or change the location: “I’m going back into the kitchen.”
E — If these strategies do not help, your teen needs an “Exit” plan. Teens should leave a bad situation immediately. If your teen does not have a way home, you or some other trusted adult will need to pick him or her up. It is a good idea for you and your teen to have a pre-arranged code phrase that means “Come and pick me up. And hurry!”
Practice these steps with your teen. Make sure your teen remembers the steps by asking, “What would you do if…” Then listen to how your teen would handle risky situations. Help your teen to know how to show affection and caring without engaging in sexual behavior.
Source: Parents, Speak Up! U.S. Department of Health & Human Services