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Spring Break: American Medical Association Warns Parents Print
Written by Karen Farris   

The media images of wild beach parties and excessive drinking are not far from the truth according to surveys conducted by the America Medical Association. Of the 644 women surveyed, 83% acknowledged that spring break included heavier than usual drinking. It was also reported that 74% of the respondents admitted to increased sexual activity. Much of this activity was alarmingly risky, including blacking out from overindulging in alcohol, and sexual activity with more than one person.

These behaviors put youth at serious risk for sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol related medical issues and for women pregnancy, disease, and the potential for rape-related crimes. Parents are to be cautioned when youth plan on vacations to these party-prone areas.

Fast Facts:

"Teenagers who have strong emotional attachments to their parents are much less likely to become sexually active at an early age." (Source: Reducing the Risk: Connection That Make A Difference in the Lives of Youth, University of Minnesota, 1997.)

"More than half of all high school students have never engaged in sexual activity, and nearly four in 10 teens will graduate from high schools as virgins." (Source: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC, June 2000.)

"There are more than 65 million Americans currently living with an incurable STD." (Tracking the Hidden Epidemics:Trends in STDs in the United States, Centers for Disease Control, 2001.)

"Teens are more likely to become sexually active if they think their parents approve of birth control." (Source: "Adolescent Perceptions of Maternal Approval of Birth Control and Sexual Risk Behavior", American Journal of Public Health, October 2000.)

 By Karen Farris

 
School Districts Teach How to Use Condoms Print
Written by Karen Farris   

The AIDS Omnibus Act (RCW 28A.230.070) mandated the curriculum development for educating youth regarding sexually transmitted diseases, particularly the life-threatening dangers of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, its spread, and its prevention. Material directed to children in grades kindergarten through twelve, will provide education regarding any sexually transmitted disease, while also emphasizing the importance of sexual abstinence outside lawful marriage and the avoidance of substance abuse in controlling disease. From fifth grade through high school graduation, students shall receive yearly instruction in the life-threatening dangers of AIDS, its spread and its prevention.

Now, our school districts are required to instruct students not only in what causes these diseases, but also how to avoid infection. While abstinence is mentioned, often it is easily dismissed when the course work includes the "Sequence for Correct Condom Use". Students receive a step by step process for using condoms. The unstated message is that while abstinence is the certain way to avoid disease, condoms are a safe alternative for those who choose to be sexually active.

Those promoting condom use should be required to also instruct students in the following condom facts:

Condom failure rates are higher for adolescents than adults.

Condoms don't cover all areas of the body that may be affected by a STD, which are passed skin-to-skin.

Condoms are little or no protection against Genital Herpes, Chlamydia, and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Condoms fail four out of 10 times when used to prevent STDs.

By Karen Farris

 
Oxytocin: The Bonding Hormone Print
Written by Karen Farris   

Oxytocin is sometimes labeled the "bonding" hormone. It is released when a woman gives birth to a baby, when she breast-feeds her child and it is released during sexual intercourse. For men, oxytocin is released during sex. These events are all relational in nature, having the potential for attachment to another human being. Literally, oxytocin helps us bond to others.

Our oxytocin is like duct tape- it helps us stay attached to those we love. When individuals have multiple sexual relationships over the course of many years, preliminary research indicates that their bonding ability is impaired. Imagine taking a piece of duct tape and attaching it to something, then ripping it off and sticking it somewhere else, pulling it off again, and reattaching it somewhere new. Eventually, as you would expect, it doesn't stick as well. Sexual intercourse bonds people together. When a bond is repeatedly made and broken, it makes sense that our bodies and relationships would somehow be impacted.

How does this affect long-term relationships like marriage? Evidence indicates that having multiple sexual partners impairs the ability to stay bonded, making a long-term marriage less attainable. There is always hope in healing, but recognizing the problem and making life-style changes is vital.

By Karen Farris

 
Teen Brains Print
Written by Karen Farris   

While teens can be full grown in stature, their brains are still developing in maturity. The teen brain, even though it's full size, has a long ways to go in fully muturing. Major stages of development are still "under construction" . The last area to fully mature is the pre-frontal cortex.

The pre-frontal cortex can be thought of as our CEO. It helps us plan, set priorities, organize our thoughts, suppress our impulses, and weigh the consequences of our actions. What this means is that youth need to make good judgments with a brain that is still developing its ability to handle these decision-making functions.

Ever wonder why a teen can be idealistic, energetic and totally enthusiastic one moment and rude and cynical the next?

The pre-frontal cortex of our brains actually finishes developing around our mid-20's. Expecting teens to make adult-level choices can be challenging, yet this doesn't give teens an excuse for bad behavior. It does underscore the need for active parental involvement, or the influence of a well-meaning adult in the lives of our youth.

 

By Karen Farris

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 January 2009 22:01
 
10 reasons for Sexual Abstinence Print
Written by Karen Farris   
  1. A generation or two ago we mostly dealt with two curable "veneral diseases". Today's kids contend with some 50-100 strains of viruses that will stay with them for life.
  2. HPV: One in two sexually active Americans has been exposed to HPV-a  viral STD with no cure. It's responsible for 99.7% of a cervical cancers. Can be spread through oral sexual contact.
  3. Herpes II: One in five Americans over the age of 12 already lives with Herpes II. It causes pus-filled pimples and blisters. Exceedingly painful. Life-long disease with no cure. Treatments can cost $150.00 for each outbreak. This can be spread through oral sex too.
  4. Chlamydia: The Silent Sterilizer. Treatable STD, but those affected are often unaware of infection. In women, it often travels up inside to the fallopian tupes, causing scarring. A girl who gets Chlamydia once suffers a 25% chance of becoming sterile. The steility odds double if she gets it twice in her life. If a girl gets Chlamydia three times chances are she'll never have a baby.
  5. A girl on birth control has 10 times greater odds of contracting an STD, one that she might have for life.
  6. Infertility rates have increased 500% in the last ten years.
  7. A teenage girl's reproductive anatomy is far more vulnerable to viruses than an adult.
  8. Oral Sex is often thought of as a safe alternative to sexual intercourse. However, the most contagious STD's are easily transmitted from partner to partner.
  9. Condoms offer little or no protection against the viral STD's that are spread by skin-to-skin contact, such as Herpes II and HPV.
  10. Sexually active teens need to be tested every six months, because many of the STD's don't display symptoms immediately.

By Karen Farris

 
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