Category Archives: Sexual Health

Talking with Teens about Sex– A Guide for Parents

Last week I wrote about an article by former U.S. Attorney General, Jocelyn Elders, and what she called the “hormonal imperative” teenagers have when it comes to exploring their sexuality. I pointed out the fine line FPA staff have to walk when working with teens on issues of sexuality and sexual activity.

The reality is, our staff have all been trained on how to talk with young people about sexual health issues and they get regular, ongoing training. Basically, FPA clinical staff are experts in the field of sexual health and they are about as comfortable talking about sexuality as a person can get.  They get lots and lots of practice, each and every workday.

While we have these discussions with teens here at the FPA every day, we know that some of the most important conversations about sexuality happen in the home, between parents and their teens.

The late Sol Gordon, PhD was a clinical psychologist, educator and widely-respected sexuality educator, who wrote several books on the subject.  In this essay, Gordon opens with the following scenario — Continue reading

“The Hormonal Imperative” and Sexuality Education

I just read a wonderful article about teen sexual health, written by former U.S. Surgeon General, Jocelyn Elders.  In the piece, Dr. Elders discusses adolescent development and makes a case for universal access to contraceptive care for teens and age-appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education for children of all ages.

Early in the article, Dr. Elders makes a bold statement.  She says, “efforts to prevent teens from having sex have been largely unsuccessful in stemming sexual activity because teenagers have a hormonal imperative to explore their sexuality.” (emphasis mine)

Whoa! I’ve never heard anyone put it quite so bluntly — hormonal imperative indeed.  But Dr. Elders doesn’t stop there; she continues her no-nonsense lesson in adolescent development with the following comments.

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2011: A Record-Breaking Year for Abortion Restrictions

I knew Maine had dodged a bullet this spring when our state legislature rejected several anti-family planning, anti-choice bills. But seeing a recent report from the Guttmacher Institute gives me a new perspective on the results in my home state. And it reminds me of what a friend used to say. You’re not being paranoid– they really are out to get you.

According to the report, 80 new abortion restrictions were enacted in the first six months of 2011. That’s more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005!

Clearly, the proposed bills in Maine were part of a larger strategy on the part of those who would deny women the right to make their own decisions about their pregnancies.

When I look at the Guttmacher report, it’s clear to me that the term “war on women” used so frequently during the last legislative session was not an exaggeration.  And here’s why… Continue reading

Summertime, Unemployment & Teen Pregnancy

Ah, summertime!  After a cold, snowy winter and a cool, rainy spring, we’re finally enjoying warm, sunshine-y days. I remember the summers of my childhood in Lewiston — riding my bicycle with friends, paddling around in the city pool, eating Popsicles — trying to keep cool in the brick and concrete heat of my downtown neighborhood.

Fast forward a few years to when I was a boy-crazy, rock-music-loving, hormone-driven teenager.  During my teens, summertime meant working extra hours at my job as a waitress in the local department store dinette. Gosh, even the word ‘dinette’ conjures up a simpler time when twenty-five cents bought you a cup of coffee and summer jobs for teens were plentiful.

Fast forward again, 35 years to the summer of 2011, and the outlook for teen employment is bleak.  Across the United States, teens seeking entry-level jobs are competing with older Americans who suffered financial losses during the recession and have had to supplement their income. Experts are predicting that only 25% of teens will find employment this summer, down from 45% in 2000.

What, you might ask, do teen unemployment rates have to do with  teen pregnancies? Well, if only one out of every four teens will have jobs this summer, I have to wonder — what will the other three out of four teens be doing? Continue reading