Adolescent Sex Myths*

David A. Gershaw, Ph.D.

Adolescence is often a time of ambivalent sexual feelings, unrewarding relationships, and unwanted pregnancy. Some widely held myths among young people seem to perpetuate these problems. Here are some of these myths.

Whether we want them to or not,
our children will learn about sex.
If parents openly discuss sexuality with their children,
they can greatly influence what their children learn.

An Adult Sexual Myth. Knowledge leads to sexual activity.

Facts. Some parents and other adults are reluctant to give young people accurate sexual information. They fear that knowledge about sexuality leads to premature sexual activity or that talking openly about sex stimulates casual sexual relationships. Whether or not sexual information is given, a certain portion of teenagers will be sexually active.

Adults who try to protect their children from the information that they need to make responsible sexual decisions simply push sexually active adolescents toward irresponsible sex. Talking about sexual issues openly encourages responsibility. Timely, effective sex education rather than too little information given too late helps to postpone first sexual intercourse, helps prevent pregnancy and sexual diseases when sexual activity does begin, and develops increased respect for one's self and others.

There is no question of whether your children will receive information about sex, the only question is how. An informal sex education from peers and the media is riddled with confusion and misinformation. With effective sexual education from home and school, adolescents can be provided with factual information to make wise decisions about their behavior. This is not a myth.

* Adapted from Byer, Shainberg & Jones' Dimensions of Human Sexuality, Wm. C. Brown Publishers, 1988, page 397-399.

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