As the generations go on, teenagers are becoming more aware of their sexuality at younger ages. To help protect them from the risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases, it is important to educate and make them aware of the ways in which they can protect themselves.
Schools in T&T do not offer sex education classes, which means it’s up to the parents and guardians to ensure that children are properly educated.
Teens are at a stage in life where they sometimes do not listen to what their parents have to say. You sit them down and get the usual, “I know, Mom” or “Okay Dad, I heard you.” Well, this is where parents need to start getting creative with their methods of having ‘the talk’.
The usual method is to scare them with the reality of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), but this usually doesn’t stop them. Instead of trying to scare your teens, inform them of the different types of STDs and different methods that can be used to prevent them, the most common being contraception.
Focus on changing the behaviour rather than using a scare tactic. Let them know that using a condom is a great way to prevent contracting STDs and make the discussion around condom use seem very normal during sexual activity. The hope is that this becomes something they always remember.
Whether sexually active or not, it is important for your teens to know about STD testing and where the service can be available to them. While prevention is better than cure, sometimes this doesn’t always go as planned. It is important to emphasise that STD testing is a responsibility that comes with the choice of being sexually active and it can protect them and their partner/s. Make them aware of the fact that many STDs do not show clear symptoms or signs, and the only way to clearly diagnose them is by getting tested.
The reason for educating your teens about being sexually active and ways to protect themselves, is to hope that they actually do. Scare tactics, graphic images and potential medical conditions as a means of education, only have a temporary effect and will not encourage them to be safe.
Making the conversation more about prevention and less about abstinence gives them the opportunity to make the choice on their own. If they do choose to be sexually active, parents can seek comfort in the fact that they’ve educated their teens on the ways to prevent both STDs and potential pregnancies.