Remember having "the talk" with Mom or Dad? Sure you do, because it probably had you squirming in your seat. But, if you're considering letting your kids off the hook to save them (or you) from an uncomfortable moment, Science Daily picked up on an interesting tidbit that is likely to change your mind. A recent study from the University of Washington suggests that strides to prevent sexually transmitted diseases should start at an early age, before an individual is even sexually active. In short, the best way to educate a young adult is to think about the big picture, not just the sex part.
So, what exactly does that mean? You've really got to pull on your parenting pants, which sounds more like logic than science in our book. "Kids don't engage in risky behaviors in a vacuum. There are environmental opportunities that have to be created," said Marina Epstein, lead author of the study. With STDs being the most common type of infection in the U.S., prevention is key. A previous study concluded that young adults between 15 and 24 make up half of the new cases. Part of the problem is that many of them are not being educated until after they've already had risky sex.
While programs encouraging abstinence or suspension in sexual activity have had some success in reducing STDs, the majority of the results are extremely short term — unless the youth came from a solid home. According to the study, a strong family life and positive social engagement at school (both with friends and teachers) resulted in a lower sexual activity rate than those who were considered troublemakers (i.e. gang, drug or alcohol use, etc.). At the end of the day, teens are still having sex. "We spent millions of dollars, with little success, on teaching adolescents that abstinence until marriage is best," Epstein said. "We would be better off spending that money preparing them to make healthy and responsible choices." (Science Daily)