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Sex and Teens

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Sex is a tough topic of conversation for both parents and teens. Parents want to know how to talk to their kids to keep them safe and informed, while kids want their information to come from a trusted source without any awkwardness attached. Hi. I'm Betty Wong, executive editor of Family Circle Magazine. Recently Parents TV spoke with experts on the subject to help both parents and teens get the information they need to start talking about sex. -So we're gonna talk about adolescent sexuality, and what parents can do to help their kids get through adolescence to become sexually-healthy adults. -My parents were usually never very open about sex. We would never talk about sex. -Parents have to lay the groundwork as they do with everything else in life. They have to start talking to kids at developmentally-appropriate levels from the time kids are talking And parents have to keep talking, keep talking. That's what I tell parents that ask me is keep having those conversations everyday. -If I talk about sex, I do talk to my girlfriends 'cause they are mostly all older than me. So, they kind of have a little more information about that than I would. So-- -By not talking to their kids, they're not giving up being the primary sexuality educators. What they are doing is inviting a whole world of other folks who just love to teach their kids about sex. That's our job as parents-- is to be there, the support of kids. The easy times are easy, it's the tough times. Scare tactics, you know, "if you ever get pregnant or if you ever get someone pregnant, don't bother coming home" don't help. They don't make it less likely that your child is going to get pregnant or get someone pregnant, it just makes it more likely that they're not gonna know where to turn. -I think my mom is more like a don't-ask-don't-tell, but she knows. So, it's kind of like "I'm here if you need me," but it was kind of like that. -If you look at the level of conversation that kids are having, there's a freedom when you're not face to face with someone. You can say all sorts of things that you would never dare say face to face. So, the new way for kids to communicate is not telephoning, it's texting. And there's whole new way of social networking that's going on with kids that the ramifications we still are-- have yet to see, but it is allowing them. There's anonymity to it as well, that's allowing them to see things and try out things that are much more forward and personal than it ever used to be before. -I think that boys are more open to talk about it in front of anybody, and girls are more open to talk about it with their, like, closer girlfriends. -But not like in a disrespectful kind of way. -Yeah. -We definitely respect all the girls when we talk about-- -Yeah. Yeah. -that kind of stuff, you know. -Technology is revolutionizing the world of sexuality for adolescence. If you look at the internet, pornography is so accessible to young people now that there's one statistic that something like 60 percent of teenagers had seen internet pornography, and for a lot of them, it had been by accident. Parents should be aware all the resources at their disposal. Parents are still the primary sexuality educators of their kids. No question about that. Whether they want to be or they don't want to be, they are. -If you're looking for a place where your teen can safely and comfortably find out more about sex, check out this website which is run by teens for teens. -Let's go. -When it comes to sexuality, some people do feel more comfortable in the privacy of their home, in a room at their own computer asking those questions. It's certainly a much more comfortable environment. "Sex, Etc." was a newsletter that started in the mid '90s that was distributed to teens through schools, and it became a magazine in 2006. The first issue was the Spring 2006 issue So, we've been a four-color magazine since then. And there's also the website, sexetc.org which was started in 1999, and we get about 25,000 unique visitors a day-- which is not to say that teens don't feel comfortable talking to their parents, because some teens do talk to their parents and we'd like to encourage them to talk to their parents about these issues. But the website does provide a nice anonymous space to get questions answered honestly. We're trying to make sure teens have basic information about their bodies, puberty, birth control, abstinence, all of those topics that they would have questions about as a teen. You know, there are a handful of other sites that provide information to teens. We are the only site that provides content written by teens for teens on sexuality and sexual health. -I'm Karen Choucrallah, and I'm 17 years old. -I'm Allie Hough, and I'm 18 years old. -Parents should definitely take a look at Sex, Etc. just because there are a lot of questions that teens ask, that they may not know the answer to. -I would suggest that parents go directly to their teens and let them know that they're open for them to talk to, and not to be embarrassed. But I think teens, no matter what, are gonna be embarrassed and nervous to talk to their parents. So, that's why website like sexetc.org is really helpful for them because there are certain questions you just don't want to ask your parents. -Sometimes, my girlfriends come like talk to me about sex, they have questions. Instead of going on the site, they just come to me personally. And it's great because even if I don't know the answer, I can just ask my editor or ask someone I work with. And-- but usually, I do know the answer, which is nice and I like-- I like giving them information that they need and helping them to stay safe. -If you're a teen, parent, or a teacher looking for information about sexual health, go to www.sexetc.org. Or go to the website and click Subscribe to have the magazine delivered to your house. -Even in the best relationships, the subject of sex is a tough one for parents and teens to initiate. But remember, you should be the primary resource for your kids. If you're having trouble but want to provide your teen with the best information, check out other credible sources to get the facts kids need to know about sex.