STD becoming a “superbug”

Those of you who have been to our parent workshop were probably shocked to find out that 1 in 4 sexually active teens has an STD by the time they graduate high school.  We try to keep you up to date on the risks so you know how to keep your children informed as well.  A recent article on gonorrhea sounds the alarm that it is becoming resistant to drug treatment…the definition of a “superbug.”  The U. S. Center for Disease Control website confirms that “Historically, gonorrhea has progressively developed resistance to all antibiotic drugs prescribed to treat it: drugs such as penicillin, tetracycline, spectinomycin, and ciprofloxacin.”

After reading the article, I noticed that someone named Kathy had posted the following poignant warning: “I had gonorrhea when I was 20. I almost died. I also, afterward, had an ectopic pregnancy and several miscarriages. I eventually did have a healthy child, but the pain and suffering weren’t worth the few minutes of sex that caused the problem. If only young people could see how foolish unmarried sex is. So little for the huge cost, not to mention the guilt that comes with it. You think you don’t feel guilty? Of course you do. It’s all buried inside. Been there, done that. Just say no.”

I was reminded again that the risks to our precious young ones  are real, and the consequences can be devastating.

House Rules

House rules let your son or daughter know what you expect. They should be clear and fair. You should expect them to be followed. Your pre-teen or teen might complain, but don’t give in. House rules make your child safe and they help your son or daughter make healthy choices.

Hardly any pre-teen or teen will admit that they like rules. But most really do. Rules make them feel loved and safe. They let them know what they can and can not do. Rules give them an easy reason to tell friends, “No, I can’t do that.” So put up House Rules in your house!

Check out your blog next week for a suggested list of “house rules. So do you a set of house rules for your home?

Gardasil Controversy

If you haven’t seen it already, this Good Morning America segment addresses new evidence about the risks of Gardasil, a vaccine approved by the FDA in 2006 to prevent the cancer-causing STD human papillomavirus (HPV). When it was approved, the CDC and FDA recommended girls (at risk for developing cervical cancer if they are infected with HPV) become vaccinated as early as 11 years old. In the last three years, GMA reports, 7 million Americans have been vaccinated. Of those, 772 cases of serious side effects have been recorded, including 32 deaths. For concerned parents, this report may be cause to do more research before vaccinating your children.

What do you know about Hepatitis?

Today is World Hepatitis Day – a day dedicated to raising awareness and educating people about the three types of Viral Hepatitis (A, B, and C). Hepatitis is a global disease that in its later stages is the cause of cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

 Visit the Center for Disease Control here to find out more information about the disease and how it is spread. For more specific information on STDs in general, visit the CDC’s “Sexually Transmitted Diseases” page here.

“Is Food the New Sex?”

I found a fascinating article on the roles of food and sex in Western Society. The author argues that over the past fifty years, the modern views of food and sex have undergone a role reversal. Where once sex was a definitive, moral issue, now food has taken its place.

Here’s an excerpt:

“(The) disciplines imposed historically on access to food and sex now raise a question that has not come up before, probably because it was not even possible to imagine it until the lifetimes of the people reading this: What happens when, for the first time in history — at least in theory, and at least in the advanced nations — adult human beings are more or less free to have all the sex and food they want?

This question opens the door to a real paradox. For given how closely connected the two appetites appear to be, it would be natural to expect that people would do the same kinds of things with both appetites — that they would pursue both with equal ardor when finally allowed to do so, for example, or with equal abandon for consequence; or conversely, with similar degrees of discipline in the consumption of each.

In fact, though, evidence from the advanced West suggests that nearly the opposite seems to be true. The answer appears to be that when many people are faced with these possibilities for the very first time, they end up doing very different things — things we might signal by shorthand as mindful eating, and mindless sex. This essay is both an exploration of that curious dynamic, and a speculation about what is driving it.”

 Check out the full article here. What do you think?

Syphilis On the Rise?

I came across an article today about an outbreak of syphilis in youth living in Oklahoma. 13 cases of syphilis have been confirmed to be linked this year, 10 of which were discovered in the past month. In light of the fact that April is STD awareness month, I thought I would post it, along with a few thoughts. Take a look at it here.

Oklahoma may seem far away, but it caused me to pause and wonder if the same thing could happen again, here in Dupage County. I say again because less than 5 years ago, an STD outbreak happened at a local school. Within days, over 8 cases of the same STD were diagnosed in a group of high school students. The cause then was the same as the cause listed in this article – a sex game played at a party.

Parents, while we can be certain that not all our teenagers are spending their time at parties in which sex games are played (I know I never did, and I can think of several teens I know now that avoid that scene), it can make us stop and think: What can we do to protect our kids?

A simple answer – be the house that hosts the parties. Be a welcoming place. If you are worried about the supervision in other homes, be the one willing to have the teens over, hanging out in your basement. Greet them at the door when they come in. Then, instead of shutting the door on them and trying to shut out the noise, check on them once in a while. Go downstairs with a plate of snacks or a carton of soda. Wander down to drop something off in the basement or ask your own son or daughter a question. The occasional and unexpected disruption will keep the teens on their toes.

Explain to him or her that you want to keep tabs on things because you are responsible for a bunch of teens that aren’t your own. You want to be sure they are safe, healthy, and behaving responsibly, because you don’t want any complaints from their parents. A teen who is living responsibly should understand your concern. A teen who raises objections might need more direction. If he or she objects and says they don’t want parties in the house, ask them why they’d rather be at a friend’s home. And then discuss what sort of rules and expectations can be made to ensure they are behaving responsibly.

Click on this link to find out more information about syphilis.

Facebook Folly—teaching-teens-to-think-before-the-write?comments=true

This is a short article about a 16-year-old girl who was fired from her job after posting complaints about it on her Facebook page. I’m posting it here for you to read, parents, mostly because I want to know what you think. The article is short enough that you could even have your teenagers read it and get their opinions on the girl’s reaction as well. I’d be interested to hear what they say!

Mixed Messages

We were recently in a DuPage County high school, conducting a behavioral survey with seniors. Of the students we surveyed, 53% were currently sexually active. When asked if they knew how their parents felt about their choices, 55% said they did not know, or were confused, about their parents’ expectations.

Just after learning those statistics, I came across an excellent article. While it does not talk directly about sex, (and although I did not agree with everything the author said) it does have some important points to make in regards to the mixed messages we as parents sometimes send to our teenage girls.

It’s titled, “Under Pressure: Are Teen Girls Facing Too Much?” You can read it here.

 The author states that 25% of our teenage girls are suffering from some sort of serious psychological or physical clinical issues: suicide attempts, depression, violence, self mutilation, etc. His explanation for the staggering statistic – which he believes is on the rise – is that our young girls today are being presented with mixed messages, or what he calls a “Triple Bind (p.2)” Teenage girls today are hearing three conflicting expectations, and are struggling to meet all of them: 1. Excel at being a girl. 2. Excel at some guy stuff too. 3. Fit into culture’s current definition of success in regards to education, life goals, and beauty. 

Be a girl, but don’t be just a girl. Their task is impossible. They know this, and although they desire to please society – their parents and teachers – they live under the threat of failure every day. It’s that tension that is leading them into dangerous behaviors.

In my opinion this argument is supported by the statistics above. Think about the messages we send our teenagers regarding abstinence. When I read parent comments after a school or parent program, over 50% of the time I read something like this: “I would love for my teen to choose abstinence, but I live in the real world. So I want her to be smart and use protection.” (Actual parent comment.)

Parents, do you see the connection? “Wait. But use protection.” We think we’re being helpful giving two expectations, but we’re not. We’re confusing our kids. It’s akin to saying, “Okay, honey. You have your driver’s license. I expect you not to drink in high school, but you will. So here, have a beer, and let’s go get behind the wheel and teach you how to drive well while under the influence.”

That may seem a ridiculous example to some, but look again at those percentages. Teenagers in our own county are unsure where their parents stand on the issue of premarital sex and abstinence. Girls who are already feeling myriad pressures to behave correctly  must add this cloudy expectation to the pot. “Wait. But use a condom.”

Organizations like CASA and The Heritage Foundation have done studies that show that negative behaviors come in clumps – students that use alcohol, smoke, or hang with teens who do are more likely to become sexually active. (And vice versa.) And those sexually active teens are also more likely to report depression, suicidal attempts, or other dangerous behaviors.

Parents, we need to choose one set of expectations. And then we need to encourage our daughters to believe they can reach them. Perhaps then that 25% will start to decrease.