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Old 06-09-2006, 08:32 AM   #1
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One Study About Teens' Use Of Condoms

By Maria Sacchetti, Boston Globe Staff | June 9, 2006

More Massachusetts teenagers who are sexually active are using condoms, according to a state survey released yesterday, 11 years after a landmark court ruling said schools could make them available to students.

The state survey, given to 3,500 teenagers in 51 high schools last year, shows that condom use has increased steadily since the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that schools could hand out condoms without parental consent.

``We're really happy to see that," said Sophie Godley, deputy director of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. ``It gives me tremendous faith that young people in this state are hearing this message and taking care of themselves. They're taking the risks and dangers of sexual activity very seriously, and they should."

Sexual activity among teenagers has increased as the Bay State battles over how to teach students about sex. About 45 percent of teenagers said they had had sexual intercourse at least once, up from 41 percent in 2003, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a poll of student health and safety given every two years here and nationwide.

Sixty-five percent of sexually active students said they used condoms, similar to the national average and up from 57 percent in 2003.

Two months ago, Governor Mitt Romney, who is weighing a bid for the presidency, announced that the state would spend nearly $1 million in federal funds for abstinence education programs in school systems with high teenage pregnancy rates, including Boston, Lawrence, Lynn, and Lowell.

Romney has insisted that his plan is not ``abstinence only," but critics fear it would undermine the progress Massachusetts has made through sex education and condom availability.

In 2004, teenage pregnancy reached a low of 22 births per 1,000, a rate that is significantly below the national average, according to the state Department of Public Health. HIV diagnoses among teenagers also remain rare here; the state recorded 11 cases in 2004.

``He's playing politics with kids' lives," said Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Massachusetts. ``If kids are going to be sexually active, they should be using condoms."

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said abstinence should be the first choice for students, ``but if they're going to engage in risky behavior, they should definitely take precautions."

Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, who is running for governor, declined to comment on the survey. But in April she declined to fully back Romney's program and said she favored more comprehensive sex-education instruction.

It is unclear how readily available condoms are in Massachusetts schools, because the state doesn't track that. Schools that provide condoms generally do so through the school nurse's office, health centers, or vending machines. In 1991, Falmouth schools became some of the first in Massachusetts to hand out condoms, prompting a challenge from a group of parents who filed a lawsuit saying it infringed on their rights and religious freedoms. That suit triggered the 1995 SJC case that upheld the policy.

Cambridge Rindge and Latin School has a health center where students can request condoms, said principal Sybil Knight.

Holyoke, in Western Massachusetts, offers condoms in its high schools, with parents' permission, and also teaches abstinence, said Superintendent Eduardo Carballo.

``We believe that it is important for families to know what's going on, and it's the family's choice," Carballo said.

In Boston, school officials do not make condoms available, but students can get them at 13 school-based health centers, as long as they have permission from their parents and a referral from a primary care physician.

Sexual activity among teenagers had been declining for several years, from 47 percent in 1995 to 41 percent in 2003, until this year's increase.

Brian Camenker -- president of MassResistance (Oh God, not again ) a nonprofit group based in Waltham that advocates for parents' rights -- questioned the survey's findings because they are self-reported by teenagers. He called for schools to avoid teaching about sex or giving out condoms.

``It's a rotten idea," said Camenker. ``It creates more sexual activity, and it sends the message to kids that you're not really responsible."

The survey generally revealed positive trends in young people's personal health in the state. The survey found that only half of teenagers had tried cigarette smoking last year, down from 72 percent a decade ago. Binge drinking declined to 27 percent of students last year from a third in 1995.

But nearly 80 percent of students had taken a drink, similar to the response in 1995.

Only 13 percent of students seriously considered suicide, down from 26 percent in 1995. About 15 percent said they had carried a weapon, up slightly from 2003.
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:48 AM   #2
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Another interesting study I read recently, it makes me sad that some girls feel that way and have sex because of it. Not all that surprising though, because honestly some very adult women do too sometimes.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Teenage girls commonly have sex not because they want to, but because they feel pressured into it — and the result may be a higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among 279 teenage girls they interviewed, many said they'd given in to unwanted sex at some point because they were afraid their boyfriend would get angry.

The findings, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, indicate that may teenagers — both female and male — need help in negotiating their relationships.

"We need to give guidance to teens on how to communicate with each other," said lead study author Dr. Margaret J. Blythe, a pediatrician at the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis.

That means helping girls to take more control over their sexual activity, and boys to understand what constitutes pressure, according to Blythe.

The importance of educating boys, she told Reuters Health, "is often the untalked-about part."

The study included girls between the ages of 14 and 17 who were seen at urban health clinics in Indianapolis. Over about two years, the girls were periodically interviewed about their current relationships, including any instances of unwanted sex over the past three months. Specific questions included: "Would he break up with you unless you had sex?" and "Would he get mad if you didn't want to have sex?"

In all, 41 percent said they'd had unwanted sex at some point. The most common reason was fear that their boyfriend would become angry. Ten percent, though, said their partner forced them have sex when they didn't want to. About 5 percent said they'd had sex after being offered money or gifts.

Girls who reported unwanted sex also reported less condom use, a poorer relationship quality and a higher rate of pregnancy than their peers, the study found.

Other research has shown that unwanted sex, particularly in cases of rape, can lead to depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. The current findings, Blythe and her colleagues say, point to sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy as additional serious consequences.

Most of the girls in the study were black and lower-income, and it's not clear how representative the findings are of the general population. But the results are similar to those of some past studies, according to Blythe and her colleagues.


For example, girls who reported unwanted sex were more likely than their peers to have a partner who smoked marijuana, and other studies have linked drug and alcohol use to forced or unwanted sex.

Substance use can blur the line between consensual and non-consensual sex, the researchers write, and boys who use drugs or alcohol may become "less sensitive" to what their partners want or don't want.
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:49 AM   #3
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I love this "It's a family decision" "Hey mum, I'm going to have sex tonight. Can you let dad know? I cant find a pen to write a note. Thanks" Really. It is utterly naive and ridiculous that this dick from MassResistance and others, think that a teenager is going to ask their parents permission for a sexual relationship. Teenagers do not seek approval or permission from the family. Obviously parents can do their best to raise their teen to make choices to wait and so on, and parents should. However, not all teens will listen. Not all teens have sensible concientious parents who wish to be a part of the decision for a teen to engage in sex. Not all parents think it is even their place and have faith that they have raised a teen who is capable of making a decision in their own time and will be safe in their choice.
This moron gives an impression to teens that he and others have no faith in them being responsible - that they aren't capable of responsibility. Way to forge a bond with that age group! Arse.
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Old 06-09-2006, 09:34 AM   #4
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When my kids are around the "that age" (is 14 too young to start doing this???) stage of even thinking about sex......i'm goin to have a bowl filled with condoms on the vanity in the bathroom, and books titled:

But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter from Controlling, Abusive Dating Relationships by Jill Murray

Adolescent Relationships and Drug Use
by Michael L. Hecht, Jess K. Alberts, Melanie R. Trost, Robert L. Krizek, Michelle A. Miller all ready for them at their disposal.
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:59 AM   #5
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Wouldn't talking to them about sex (and the physical, emotional, relational aspects) be more effective than a book and a "bowl full of condoms"?
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Old 06-09-2006, 11:14 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Wouldn't talking to them about sex (and the physical, emotional, relational aspects) be more effective than a book and a "bowl full of condoms"?


why not do all these things? i think comprehensive sex education is the best way to decrease STD's and pregnancy as well as delay the age of first sexual intercourse.

i also think this shows that tackling the problem in a practical, non-ideological manner -- making condoms available, or to choose a correlatory example, a needle exchange program -- is the best way to combat disease and other social maladies.

i can't believe that people think that 16 year olds having protected sex is worse than transmitting an STD or an unwanted pregnancy.
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Old 06-09-2006, 11:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511




why not do all these things? i think comprehensive sex education is the best way to decrease STD's and pregnancy as well as delay the age of first sexual intercourse.

Exactly. I think opening the lines of communication as well as providing additional resources for kids is a great idea.


Quote:
Originally posted by fly so high!

When my kids are around the "that age" (is 14 too young to start doing this???)
Unfortunately, I think that's the right age. Hell, there are kids out there who are even younger thinking about this kind of stuff.

It's scary.
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Old 06-09-2006, 11:35 AM   #8
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Unfortunately, I think that's the right age. Hell, there are kids out there who are even younger thinking about this kind of stuff.

It's scary.
Which is exactly why parents need to continue to be parents, and not abdicate their role in favor of becoming their child's friend.

As soon as a parent get the idea that "they are going to do it anyway" - they've lost the position of authority over their children.

This is not the easiest postion to offer because it takes a HUGE amount of effort and needs to start at a young age. Personally, I want to stay involved in my children's lives to a degree that they are willing and able to tell me anything that is happening in their lives.
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Old 06-09-2006, 12:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader

Personally, I want to stay involved in my children's lives to a degree that they are willing and able to tell me anything that is happening in their lives.
That's so admirable and the ideal, but as we all know so many kids don't have that. So in the absence of that, they need to be protected-but also have their psyches protected by some other influence in their lives who can counsel them about respecting themsleves and respecting sexuality. As the other article suggests, so many kids still don't even respect themselves enough that they will have unwanted sex so that a boy doesn't "get angry". I think that is so sad, and indicates that we all have to step up and be there for kids if we can be. Many kids are so emotionally starved and lonely that they equate sex with the love and self acceptance/esteem that they are desperately longing for, and sometimes it's from parents who aren't there for them.
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Old 06-09-2006, 12:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


Which is exactly why parents need to continue to be parents, and not abdicate their role in favor of becoming their child's friend.

As soon as a parent get the idea that "they are going to do it anyway" - they've lost the position of authority over their children.

This is not the easiest postion to offer because it takes a HUGE amount of effort and needs to start at a young age. Personally, I want to stay involved in my children's lives to a degree that they are willing and able to tell me anything that is happening in their lives.


i agree that "they're going to do it anyway" is an abdication of responsibility, but i think many parents take the view that, "my child is ultimately going to make his/her own decisions," therefore the job of the parent is to equip the teenager with enough information and judgement to make a good decision.

i think the parent/child relationship shifts dramatically when a child is about 12 or 13, and many teens, as part of the growth process, make conscious efforts to shut their parents out of certain aspects of their lives. i always got along fairly well with my parents, and there were some aspects of my life where i was 100% open and honest with them, and other areas where i was not. looking back, i think this was part of forging my own identity and defining myself not just apart from my parents but also in opposition to them.

i would never, ever have actively involved my parents in a decision over whether or not to have sex, and i honestly can't think of a single teenager who would. i would, however, take whatever values my parents had instilled in me up to that point and use those as part of the decision making process.
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Old 06-09-2006, 07:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Wouldn't talking to them about sex (and the physical, emotional, relational aspects) be more effective than a book and a "bowl full of condoms"?
Maybe,maybe not ............but what if they don't WANT to talk. I was a healthy, attractive teenager and my parents tried to TALK to me about sex........but i did not want to talk to them about it.......and i had great family networks,lots and lots of very supportive people in our lives, including cousins that offered their support and a very liberated grandma who was part of the women's movement in the 50-60's......but i still did not want to talk to them about sex.

Instead my mother found out i was having sex by finding me curled up in my bedroom sobbing.........why, i thought i had an STD!!!!! My mother admits now, that this was the most terrifying time in her life.Even though mum went trough all the ?'s like, did you have protected sex(and i did, my BF did wear a condom) but she knew something was up because i did not feel /look well,....she took me to the Doctor's, turned out i had nothing but a terrible,terrible bad case of thrush from being on anti-biotics a few weeks before, mind you my "first-time" was something like 2 months .

I was 15 and 9 months.
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Old 06-09-2006, 07:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by fly so high!
Instead my mother found out i was having sex by finding me curled up in my bedroom sobbing.........why, i thought i had an STD!!!!! My mother admits now, that this was the most terrifying time in her life.Even though mum went trough all the ?'s like, did you have protected sex(and i did, my BF did wear a condom) but she knew something was up because i did not feel /look well,....she took me to the Doctor's, turned out i had nothing but a terrible,terrible bad case of thrush from being on anti-biotics a few weeks before, mind you my "first-time" was something like 2 months .

I was 15 and 9 months.
Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. It must have been quite freightening at that age.

Looking back at this experience, would you have done anything differently? Would you want to talk more with your parents? Were there things you wished your parents asked of offered before this experience?
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. It must have been quite freightening at that age.

Looking back at this experience, would you have done anything differently? Would you want to talk more with your parents? Were there things you wished your parents asked of offered before this experience?
Your welcome. And yes, it was a very frightening time in my life and i lived with that horrible feeling emotionly and physically (bad case of thrush REALLY HURTS!) for 2 weeks before i said anything to my mother.

looking back on the experience now............i would have liked to have some resources at hand.....(i read alot, always did!).......and if i did know how my mother would take it(or my dad for that matter) i would have talked more to them about it..........but you just would not know these things.......like any other teenager, you are just finding your way/place in the world, no matter how liberated or way cool your parents are.
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Old 06-10-2006, 06:00 AM   #14
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I hate it when Christians use fear and ignorance as an "easy" way to get their peers to "toe the line" morally.

I depart from most of my fellow Christian conservatives in opposing sex education and the availablity of condoms, particularly in the public schools. I do believe in abstinence until marriage, I do believe that it can be achieved, and I also believe that will be many who choose, for various reasons, to disregard the "standards" of the church and engage in sexual intercourse before marriage. Hiding the truth about the protection condoms afford is not going to change any of that.

To me, if you believe that kids are gonna go out and have crazy sex as soon as they are informed that a condom reduces the liklihood of getting a STD or pregancy than you've got a much bigger problem on your hands. Obviously you've totally failed to transmitt your values about sexuality, and you darn well better provide the condoms because the clearly whatever you've tried to teach hasn't worked at all.

For my kids, I'm going to do my best to teach them what I believe about sex and it's appropriate place in their lives. I will teach them ALL the facts about sex including the various methods of birth control. I won't provide a "bowl of condoms" for them because for me, that would create the impression that I "expect" them to abandon the values that I've tried to teach them. However, they'll know the facts they need to be safe should they make the "wrong" decision. They'll have enough spending money to buy whatever's needed should they decide to go against what I've taught.

And should I "find out" I won't kick them out of my house or anything. Just encourage them to really think about what they're doing, and reconsider what I've taught them, and hope and pray for the best. That's what my grandma did for me when she thought I was sleeping with a friend of mine (long story) and I've always respected it.
I also agree that kids are never going to "discuss with their parents whether to have sex or not." And requiring parental consent for condom use is basically ensuring that kids will just have unprotected sex.
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Old 06-10-2006, 08:34 AM   #15
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I absolutely fail to understand the view that a parent has this totalitarian authority over their children. It comes, I suppose, from hearing too often, from conservative viewpoints that the parents' morals set and all that can be easily (or naturally will be) passed onto the teen with good parenting. That to do otherwise is a failure. It is neither a failure of the parent when it does not happen, and it is also not so naturally or easily simply ingrained in the child. Teen, in this situation.

I wonder if those who are saying all this will accept willingly that it is failure as a parent on their behalf if their child has sex during their teen years.

I wonder, do they view it as an actual failure if their child simply has sex?

Is it a failure if the child/teen decides they are ready and willing and therefore engage in safe and consentual sex?

It's offensive to continue reading how having an alternate view is a failure.

And I hate to be pointing out the bleeding obvious, but the 'bowl of condoms' line is not to be taken absolutely literally. Sheesh. Well, maybe it is, but I highly doubt fly so high! meant it as anything but a figure of speech.
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