Teenage Girls and STDs
Letter to the Editor submitted by Sumru Erkut, Ph.D., to The Boston Globe in response to the CDC Press Release: “One in Four Female Adolescents Is Infected with At Least One Sexually Transmitted Infection, New CDC Study Finds" published March 12, 2008.
March 13, 2008
If the fact that one in four female adolescents has at least one STD isn't proof that our children don’t know how to care for and protect themselves, then what is? According to the study cited by the CDC, these teens tested positive for dangerous infections that can lead to long-term health issues. If so many teenage girls have STIs, how many teenage boys are also infected? Adolescents engage in sexual behavior for a variety of reasons, including heightened sexual desire resulting from pubertal development, curiosity, and as a form of social and interpersonal power. But knowledge is also power. While delaying the onset of sexual activity is the healthiest choice for avoiding sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy, adolescents must have a thorough understanding of sexual health, sexuality, and protection methods, which they will need when they become sexually active. It’s a part of overall physical and emotional health. Comprehensive sex education for adolescents and their parents and caregivers is critical. When our children are making informed decisions about their sexual behavior, let’s make sure they know how to express their opinions and their family's values about sexual activity as well as protect themselves from physical and emotional harm.