Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Study Reports Risky Sex Practices on Rise Among Teens

A recent study by the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center in Rhode Island which indicates risky sexual practices among teens are on the rise, underscores the importance (once again) of parents being proactive in teaching their children healthy, values-based sexuality. For more information on talking to your kids about sexuality, visit HomeWord.com, where numerous articles on this topic can be found.

Curiosity and experimentation are hallmarks of the adolescent years. Emerging sexual desires make these years even more complicated. In the Christian community, where teens are often taught to save sexual intercourse for marriage, it's not uncommon for kids to seek out sexual experimentation that they believe preserves their virginity. They can actually become quite legalistic about their sexuality, where anything but "going all the way" is believed to be acceptable. This concept (mistaken as it is) can contribute to risky sexual behaviors. This brings us full circle to the importance of parental involvement, namely that the more positive, healthy sex education kids receive from their parents, the less promiscuous they will be.

Experts say that as social morales ease, more young heterosexuals are engaging in anal sex, a behavior once rarely mentioned in polite circles. And the experimentation, they worry, may be linked to the current increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

Recently, researchers at the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center in Rhode Island suggested that anal sex is on the rise among teens and young adults, particularly those who have unprotected vaginal sex.

Experts say girls and young women like Carry are often persuaded to try such sexual behavior for the wrong reasons -- to please a partner, to have sex without the risk of pregnancy or to preserve their virginity. But many don't understand the health consequences.

"Given the subject matter, it is likely that the numbers reported may actually be an underestimate of the prevalence of these behaviors," said Celia Lescano of Brown University, the Bradley Hasbro study's lead author.

"There is no doubt that teens lack information about STDs and the safety of different behaviors and they they are engaging in more sexual experimentation," Lescano told ABCNews.com.

Another well-publicized 2005 study using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health found that teenagers who take "virginity pledges" were more likely to engage in oral or anal sex than nonpledging teens and less likely to use condoms once they became sexually active.

Conducted by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities, the study found that although teens who made the pledges had sex later than those who had not pledged and had fewer partners overall, both groups had similar rates of sexually transmitted diseases.

Source: ABC News

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