Sue Scheff: Benefits of Abstinence Among Teens

By Connect with Kids

“If you don’t feel that they should be having sex at this age, tell them that. Explain your values. Listen to them as well, give them a chance to express their opinions as well, and you can have a discussion about it.  It’s very important that adolescents have a chance to express their own opinions and to hear your reactions to those opinions.”

– Dr. Mark Schuster, M.D., Ph.D., pediatrician

Regret can be a great teacher and, according to a new survey of high school students, that’s especially true when it comes to teenagers and sex.

Trey was 14 when he first had sex. 

“Just the pressure — upper classmen — they were just ragging me on to do it, and I just fell into that trap. I fell into that peer pressure,” says Trey, 17.

Afterwards, Trey says he regretted it.

“Just the feeling, the emotions that were going through my mind…and my thoughts were, ‘What am I doing? I feel like I’m soliciting myself, I don’t know even know this girl’s name by heart,’” recalls Trey.

In a survey of high school students by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, sexually-experienced teens were twice as likely to value abstinence as teens who were virgins. It seems that it is after having sex that some kids learn the value of being abstinent.

“It’s unfortunate that they had to learn it the hard way, but one of the things that they’re realizing is that there is an alternative way: there’s a way for me to court [someone], or to get a guy that I like to court me and respect me and for me not to have sex,” says Alduan Tartt, psychologist.

Experts say another way kids can learn about the risks and complications of sex are from their parents — not from “atalk” but with a conversation.

“If you don’t feel that they should be having sex at this age, tell them that. Explain your values. Listen to them as well, give them a chance to express their opinions as well, and you can have a discussion about it.  It’s very important that adolescents have a chance to express their own opinions and to hear your reactions to those opinions,” says Dr. Mark Schuster, M.D., Ph.D., pediatrician.

Trey says he’s choosing abstinence now and it feels right.

“You don’t have anything to worry about. You don’t have to worry about if you have an STD. You’re just focused on your goals,” says Trey.

Tips for Parents

  • Abstinence is defined as not having sex. A person who decides to practice abstinence has decided not to have sex. (Nemours Foundation)
  • Abstinence is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. Although many birth control methods can have high rates of success if used properly, they can fail occasionally. Practicing abstinence ensures that a girl will not become pregnant because there is no opportunity for sperm to fertilize an egg. (Nemours Foundation)
  • Only complete and consistent abstinence can totally protect against STDs. Because a person does not have any type of intimate sexual contact when he or she practices complete abstinence, there is no risk of passing on a sexually transmitted infection. (Nemours Foundation)
  • Don’t let teasing or pressure from friends, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, or even the media push you into something that’s not right for you. Research shows that the majority of teens are not having sex. (www.connectwithkids.com/everybodysnotdoingit)
  • A couple can still have a relationship without having sex. If you’ve made a decision not to have sex, it’s an important personal choice and the people who care about you should respect that. (Nemours Foundation)
  • You may have questions about making this choice or about other methods of birth control. Your doctor or nurse — or an adult you trust, such as a parent, teacher or counselor — can help provide accurate answers. (Nemours Foundation)

References

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