Spring is here! High school seniors are preparing for prom and graduation. They are looking forward to the next exciting stage of their lives, college. When I was actively involved in the pro-life movement this was the time of year I dreaded the most. There was always a notable increase in young people at abortion clinics about 6 weeks after prom and graduation. There was clearly an observable connection in the minds of those of us who stood outside the abortuaries and attempted to dissuade the boys and girls from going inside.
Dangers of Teen Sexual Activity
The danger of teen sexual activity remains an epidemic that is ignored, and it is literally killing our kids. There are significant dangers that our teen boys and girls are exposing themselves to even with so-called “safe sex” practices. It is a fact that when kids engage in sexual activity they expose themselves to physical harm. Their bodies are not ready for this activity at such young ages, and they are at tremendous risk for contracting diseases that will in some cases stay with them for the rest of their lives, and in other cases like HIV/AIDS, diseases that will take their lives. With the marketing of drugs promoted to prevent cervical cancer and give relief from herpes there is a mistaken view that if we could just eliminate the possibility of teens getting a disease or pregnant then we could relax.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Emotional Danger for the Sexually Active
There is another risk for our teens that goes along with sexual activity outside of marriage: The significant emotional danger for children and teens who become sexually active is real. When it comes to teens and sex our culture wants us to forget these are just kids! Boys are no more equipped for the emotional roller coaster of sexuality than their female counterparts are, they just disguise it better.
Teenage sexual activity leads to emotional distress. In a majority of these sexual encounters, there are no “relationships” behind the sexual acts. They get drunk or high at a party and have sex. They attend a prom or school dance and the expectation is they will have sex. They are glammed up to look like movie stars, society expects them to have sex, and they are taught that everyone does it. And they are not emotionally ready for it.
Teens in a serious middle or high school relationship, wrongly believe they have the maturity and skills to conduct an adult relationship. They believe they are prepared to be intimate because after all, they “love” each other. However, they are already experiencing a confusing array of emotions from the hormonal surge that is taking place in their bodies, and when sexual activity is added to these emotions it only makes those feelings more intense and confusing.
When a teenage girl becomes sexually active she may withdraw or display anger or talk about feelings of self-contempt and worthlessness that lead to a diagnosis of depression. If she has been brought up in a home where morality is valued or where she has been taught to cherish her virginity, teenage sex can bring tremendous feelings of guilt and shame and loss. Instinctively, a girl knows that her virginity is something special and should be valued and when she gives it up she knows she has given away a part of herself that is extraordinarily personal and a prominent part of who she is. There is a significant sense of loss that goes along with this for many girls, Christian or not.
Connection Between Depression and Sexual Activity
Has anyone stopped to consider that the exploding rate of teenage depression may be related to teenage sexuality? In one study involving 8200 students ages 12-17, the researchers found that those involved in romantic relationships had significantly higher levels of depression than those not involved in romantic relationships. The connection between sex and depression in teens is circular. Some teens have sex because they are depressed, others are depressed because they have had sex. Some use it as an escape from other unpleasant aspects of life, and others want to escape the sexual cycle they are in. Teens have described their use of sex as a sort of drug, numbing their minds, filling a void or hurt in their lives even if it is only for a short time. Many teen girls describe a desire to be “loved” and think they are meeting that emotional desire through sexual activity. She is giving a part of herself away in the sexual act and if it is received in a casual or disrespectful manner she will be devastated.
Our kids are confronted from the moment they wake up until they close their eyes and sleep with all the wrong images and ideas about sex. Sexual messages fill their music, commercials, radio, computer, classrooms, peer groups, parties, music videos, movies, books, phone conversations, and even their drive down the highway. In the self-centered idealism of youth, teens think that what they do in private will not affect anyone else. They believe they have a right to their privacy, and to make their own decisions. Their school, which is the largest influence in a teenager’s life, teaches them that they don’t have to listen to you, that you can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do. Parental authority has been greatly diminished by the State. They have the ability to hand out condoms to your kids and take them for pregnancy tests and abortions that you will never know about. Is it any wonder teens believe no one will get hurt if they have sex?
The truth is, teens that become involved in immoral behavior hurt more than just themselves. Every teen that gets pregnant hurts others. Every teen that gets a disease hurts others. Every teen that has an abortion hurts others. Every parent that learns their child is sexually active is wounded beyond words. If we have any hope of putting the brakes on this runaway train of teen sexuality, it is going to have to begin in the home.
If you have the ability, opt your child out of the school’s sex education program, or the component of their health curriculum that includes sex education. Ask upfront for the curriculum, and the scope and sequence and learn when these are being taught and get your child excused. And then, take your God-given responsibility seriously and educate your children on the biblical principles of sex. You, not the school or the media, are the best and most qualified people to tell your children the truth about sexual issues. Unless parents speak up and butt IN, there will be no counterbalance to the message of the world.
 Kara Joyner and J. Richard Udry, “You Don’t Bring Me Anything But Down: Adolescent Romance and Depression.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 41 (2000) 369-391