In a small workshop setting, over twenty young people came together on July 14 to discuss the social and physical impacts that sex can have on a teenager during adolescent years. Their conversation, coupled with an educational presentation on STDs and pregnancy, was a first step for some in breaking down the stereotypes and consequences of engaging in sex at too early of an age or without protection.
Youth shared stories of dealing with the social stigma associated with sex. One young woman pointed out how she was falsely accused for having sex with someone she did not and then became taunted by peers who called her a “slut”. One young man shared how he was peer pressured by his girlfriend to have sex and ended up losing his virginity at age thirteen. Another young man affirmed that many males in high school enjoy bragging about the number of girls they’ve had sex with.[pullquote_right]One young woman pointed out how she was falsely accused for having sex with someone she did not and then became taunted by peers who called her a “slut”.[/pullquote_right]
The issue resonates not just for high school and college students, but also middle school as well. A thirteen-year-old participant of the workshop shared the story of a friend who is the same age and became pregnant recently. These and other similar stories came out during the course of the workshop.
The young people also discussed the role parents and adults play in teen sex education and advocacy. A few youth pointed out they had supportive parents. One young man said his parents provided him with condoms while another young girl shared that her mom took her to get birth control. But there were a few youth who pointed out the lack of interaction and disconnect they have with their parents, thus making them uncomfortable to discuss such a topic.
At the end workshop, the youth wrote down personal pledges that will serve as reminders for them to protect and respect their bodies and values, whether it be to always use protection, or to abstain completely.