Moms, you may want to sit down for this story. I know I had to.
Dr. Wendy Walsh: I recently had to make that uncomfortable call to a mom from a new school. You know the kind of call. I didn't even know the woman, yet I had to not only introduce myself but also inform her that her son had mentioned to some fifth grade girls, all aged 10 or 11, that "Spin the Bottle" was to be a compulsory activity at his upcoming birthday party.
Fortunately, she was cool about it, laughed her butt off, and then ordered extra lighting and extra chaperones for the shindig. My phone call was precipitated by some stats I'd run across online. Stats that I really need to share with you.
Moms, are you sitting down? Because I've got some sobering statistics from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Seriously. Sit down. And chew on this number, for starters.
That's the percentage of ninth graders (14-year-olds!!!) who have had sexual intercourse. That's from a 2007 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. Think about it. That's about four in 10. And the news gets worse. By 10th grade, that number is just shy of 50 percent. These numbers do not include children who engage in oral sex in middle school. Apparently, oral sex is not considered sex these days. Funny, I think you can still get a sexually transmitted disease from it.
And, if you're still trying to catch your breath, Mom, read this one fast. One-third of American teenage girls get pregnant before the age of 20. That's one in three, ladies.
So, what is going on here???
According to experts, there are a few factors that have contributed to these startling statistics. Let's start with our highly sexualized culture and tween fashion industry. From advertising to TV to the Internet, the messages our advertisers and entertainment executives send to children rob them of their childhood, literally.
Next, let's look at ourselves. Despite what the data shows, too many parents and school administrators still believe that teaching sex education and giving information about birth control is giving permission for sexual activity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Teaching kids about the physical, emotional, and social ramifications of early sexual activity helps them make an informed decision. Instead, too many children (yes, children) rely on playground groping and peer-to-peer misinformation, and make decisions when they only know half the story.
Here is the saddest statistic that I read today: Six out of 10 teenage girls say they wish they had waited to have sex. I'll be pulling my head out of the sand today. And there will be some serious info being served with my lasagna tonight.
Want to join me? Check out The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
|Dr. Wendy Walsh holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and her area of interest is Attachment Theory, a psychological, evolutionary and ethological theory that provides a descriptive and explanatory framework for understanding interpersonal relationships between human beings. As a psychological assistant registered with the California Board of Psychology, Dr. Walsh has treated individuals, couples and families for a variety of mental health concerns including personality disorders, anger management, eating and substance disorders, and depression. Connect with Dr. Walsh on Facebook.|